UAAP: 'Mali ang approach namin sa game,' admits FEU's Cani

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2018 11:58 AM | Updated as of Oct 01 2018 12:05 PM

UAAP: 'Mali ang approach namin sa game,' admits FEU's Cani 1
Hubert Cani (9) and the FEU Tamaraws need to regroup after a massive loss to UE. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – Midway through the first round of the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball tournament, a troubling pattern has emerged for the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws.

Considered a Final 4 contender heading into the season, the Tamaraws have stumbled into a 2-2 record after their first four games.

The nature of their games have been strange: FEU dispatched fellow contenders De La Salle University, 68-61, and University of the Philippines, 89-73. But against rebuilding teams, the Tamaraws fell apart. They were outlasted by University of Santo Tomas (UST), 76-74, then suffered an inexplicable 90-65 mauling at the hands of University of the East (UE) on Sunday.

The shock loss compelled the Tamaraws to have a long meeting after the game, with coach Olsen Racela leaving his players to their own devices.

"Gusto niya sa aming sabihin na kami pa lang, kaya naming ayusin 'to," FEU point guard Hubert Cani said of their lengthy discussion. "Hindi na siya kailangang pagalitan kami or whatsoever. Parang samin pa lang, itake na namin yung commitment."

The question of commitment was at the center of their meeting, according to Cani.

"Pinag-usapan lang namin 'yung commitment sa team as individual players. Kung ano 'yung mga pagkakamali namin, 'yung approach namin sa game," he explained.

"Kahit sinong kalaban namin dapat same approach lang kami sa game," Cani stressed.

At this point in the season, Cani has to admit that there may be something wrong with the way the Tamaraws approach their games. While the guard does not believe that they play down to the level of their opponents, Cani does acknowledge that the Tams are taking some short cuts in terms of their preparation.

"Tingin ko, mali talaga 'yung approach namin sa game. Parang dinadaya namin eh. Sa amin bumabalik 'yun," he said.

"Kunyari malakas 'yung kalaban namin, dun kami babawi tapos pag may mga teams na parang 'di naman nasa average, dun kami nagse-step down eh," he added.

This mentality has backfired twice already, first against UST and then against UE. The loss to the Red Warriors was especially concerning: the Tamaraws simply had no answer on either end of the floor. They shot only 33.87% against the Red Warriors, and allowed UE to shoot at a 45.95% clip – their best percentage so far this season.

They were overwhelmed by Alvin Pasaol, who dropped 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 steals in the game. Jason Varilla (17 points) notched his career-high against the Tams, and Philip Manalang (13 points, 12 assists) carved up their defense all game long.

"Binibigyan namin ng kumpiyansa 'yung ibang teams eh. 'Yun talaga 'yung pagkakamali namin," said Cani, who had 12 points to lead the Tamaraws in the loss.

"Same lang ng UST, parang in-underestimate namin 'yung game kaya ngayon 'yung mga shots nila kahit naka-challenge na, kahit anong gawin namin, talagang shumu-shoot na kasi binigyan namin sila ng confidence," he also said.

It was their first loss to UE since Season 77.

There were some signs that they were in for a tough game against UE, as Cani bared that they had poor practices leading up to Sunday's game.

"Bago 'tong UE, we had two practices tapos sobrang pangit nung practice namin," he admitted. "As in."

"Kaya siguro ganito yung nangyari sa amin kasi pangit nung practice talaga namin nung Friday and Saturday. Nadala namin dito," he added.

Cani and the Tamaraws are now looking forward to putting the loss to UE behind them, and going back to work in practice on Monday. The point guard expects his team to be well-motivated in training, given how poorly they performed over the weekend.

"Tingin ko sobrang ganda ng kakalabasan nung training namin, kasi kung hindi, parang 'di namin tine-take seriously 'to, 'yung UAAP, 'yung team namin," he said.

"Tingin ko bukas, dun pa lang sa practice magsa-start na 'yun. Dun pa lang sa practice, magsa-start na kami," he added.

The Tamaraws will try to bounce back against National University on Wednesday.

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