FEU guards pick up slack after RJ Abarrientos departure
MANILA, Philippines—Midway through the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup, Far Eastern University head coach Olsen Racela told his boys to step up after top player RJ Abarrientos’s departure from the team.
A few games later, FEU’s quartet of guards, Bryan Sajonia, LJay Gonzales, Royce Alforque and Xyrus Torres spearheaded the Tamaraws to the preseason’s final against National University, much to the delight of Racela.
“I’m very satisfied [with my guards]. I think they’re getting used to the fact that Rhonjay (Abarrientos) isn’t here anymore,” FEU’s head tactician said after their quarterfinals win against University of the Philippines, 72-63.
Sajonia, Gonzales, Alforque and Torres averaged a combined 36.74 points per game and 11.81 assists per game at the end of the preseason tournament.
Alforque, who turned out to be the most notable performer in the Tamaraws’ guard-studded lineup, was named to the preseason’s mythical five with a stat line of 9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 3.9 apg.
“They’re getting used [to their responsibilities] and they know there is no one person that can fill RJ’s shoes; it’s always a collective,” Racela said.
The Tamaraws averaged 37.34 percent shooting from the field while holding opponents down to just 35.1 percent. FEU also tallied 15.9 assists per outing.
Their hot-shooting streak would be halted at the tournament’s final when the Bulldogs held them down to just 21.5 percent, making just 14 of their 65 attempts. They dropped their preseason title hopes against NU, 56-46.
This coming UAAP Season 85, FEU will heavily rely on their guards as they hope to reach the Final Four like they did last season, and begin a new chapter minus their former star, Abarrientos.