Tamaraws hoping to go all the way this time around
MANILA—The Far Eastern U Tamaraws are back in the familiar confines of the postseason. But they’re hoping that the ending will not be the same as in the past four seasons.
Having lost in the Final Four in 2008 and 2009, the Tamaraws zoomed into the postseason as the top seed in 2010. But just when it looked like they were about to end a five-year title drought, the Tamaraws’ guns fell silent against an inspired Ateneo team, which went on to claim a third straight crown.
The Tamaraws are looking to give graduating players Aldrech Ramos, Jens Knuttel and JR Cawaling a triumphant sendoff in the 74th UAAP season.
“We really want to win it for our graduating teammates,” said star guard RR Garcia, who leads the team in scoring with 16.4 points per game.
Garcia bagged the Most Valuable Player award last year. But with the Tamaraws losing in the finals, the 5-foot-10 guard from Zamboanga feels he has some unfinished business.
Ramos is doing his share of getting them to the postseason season as he registered averages of 11.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in 14 games.
But when the Tamaraws were mired in a three-game skid midway into the season, sophomore guard Terrence Romeo and defensive specialist Ping Exciminiano also sparkled with a string of solid performances in the second round that helped FEU win five of its six remaining games.
With their strong finish, the Tamaraws set up a Final Four duel with the Adamson Falcons, who own a twice-to-beat edge after finishing the elimination-round with a 10-4 record.
FEU coach Bert Flores has done well to steady the ship despite the injuries to Pipo Noundu and JR Cawaling.
Flores insists that no team has a clear advantage in their Final Four matchup. The Tamaraws and Falcons split their season matchup with FEU winning the second-round duel, 62-61.
“We have to be aggressive in reboounding because they have experienced big men,” said Flores.
Stopping guards Lester Alvarez and Alex Nuyles and big men Eric Camson and Austin Manyara will be key, as far as Garcia is concerned.
“They have a complete team,” said Garcia. “They will be very prepared. I am not the MVP this time and I did not make it to the Mythical Five but this time, I just want to win the championship.”