Tamaraws go all out for UAAP title Wednesday
For Far Eastern University, there’s no limit to getting better. And so the Tamaraws aim for one strong, final push versus the National U Bulldogs to clinch the UAAP men’s basketball championship Wednesday.
“We have to improve even more,” said FEU’s star forward Mac Belo as his Tamaraws stand favored to sweep the best-of-three title series. “We have to work on our adjustments because NU is a good team and they have a good system.”
The Tamaraws, who own the most number of UAAP basketball crowns, shoot for their 20th title in an expected Game 2 blockbuster at 3:30 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The league will also honor the top individuals led by season MVP Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo in an awarding ceremony at 2 p.m.
“You can’t really base it on one game, because I think man-for-man, NU still has the edge,” said FEU coach Nash Racela after the Tamaraws rallied to a pulsating 75-70 triumph over the Bulldogs in Game 1 last Saturday. “But again, when it comes to these games, you just have to go all out.”
That’s what the Bulldogs also intend to do as they try to forge a rubber match to sustain their hopes of snapping the school’s long 60-year title drought.
“We’re going to really come back strong,” vowed NU center Alfred Aroga, whose defensive lapse in the end-game allowed Belo to sneak past him and lay in a crucial basket with just 44 seconds left.
NU coach Eric Altamirano said the Bulldogs have to tighten up their defensive game after allowing FEU’s underrated crew of Roger Pogoy, Achie Iñigo, Anthony Hargrove, Raymar Jose and Ron Dennison to inflict damage in the second half of Game 1.
“By allowing them to score 75, it means we didn’t do a good job on defense,” said Altamirano.
Despite their poor showing in some areas, including a paltry 15-of-31 outing at the free throw line, Altamirano pointed out how the Bulldogs still came close to winning.
“There are so many things to look forward to,” said Altamirano. “There are a lot of positives. This team doesn’t just give up.”
The Bulldogs, whose lone crown came in 1954, believe they can summon the same urgency they showed in hurdling three straight knockout games to reach the title round.
“The most important thing is we give our best,” said Altamirano.
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