Contrary to the times when they were led by the likes of Arwind Santos, RR Garcia, and Terrence Romeo, the FEU Tamaraws of recent years have shown that they are moving away from relying on superstars to lead them and are focusing more on getting contributions from everyone.
This egalitarian approach was apparent in the Tamaraws’ 89-73 victory over the talented UP Fighting Maroons, where FEU finished with a league season-high 22 assists in the game. Five players finished with double-digit points and a total of 11 different players scored for the Morayta-based squad.
Moreover, 45 points — or more than half of the Tamaraws’ point total — was scored by players who came off the bench.
This balanced approached resulted to an uber-efficient attack by the Tamaraws as they shot 52.4% from the field and 41% from downtown — both also the highest marks recorded by a team so far in Season 81.
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Head coach Olsen Racela, however, was more pleased with the team effort shown on defense.
“It was a defensive game para sa amin. Offense was just the bonus. Effect lang yung opensa namin ng depensa namin eh. Good job by everyone, all the players sticking to our game plan,” explained Racela.
“Yung 8-0 run was an effect of our defense eh. Kaya nagalit ako nung nag 10-0 run sila [UP]. We were trying to stop their run with offense. Hindi dapat ganun. I guess we caught UP on an off night. Limiting them to 73. Although yung second quarter, pumutok sila. Maganda yung execution namin, especially on the defensive end.”
He also noted that despite Prince Orizu doing an admirable individual job, it was still a concerted effort from all of his wards to limit the Fighting Maroons’ hulking Bright Akhuetie.
“Kasi si Bright, hindi pwedeng single coverage lang kay Bright. Magaling na player. Nakita ko na siya sa NCAA when I covered it. Nakakatakot pa sa kanya ngayon, he’s an all-around player now. And with the weapons that UP have, mahirap yung ganung kalabanin. Maganda na na-limit namin siya, nalimit din namin yung iba. Again, it’s a defensive game,” Racela said.
Akhuetie finished with nine points, 11 rebounds, and had two turnovers while shooting just 4-for-11 from the field.
With this kind of performance after a shocking loss against the UST Growling Tigers, Racela only hopes that the Tamaraws continue to show the same kind of mentality and focus for the rest of the season.
“It had to take a game like that when we played against UST for us to really play things possession-by-possession,” he said, “Yun yung kailangan naming matutunan. I always remind these players about that. Pero kailangan yata, ma-experience muna nila yung sinasabi mo. Mai-ingrain talaga sa utak nila eh. I think that’s what happened,” he said.