By Gio Gloria
FEU Tamaraws def. UE Red Warriors, 81-65
Wendell Comboy (Game-high 24 points on six 3-pointers, zero turnovers)
If he builds on this solid performance, it will be safe to say that Comboy is next in the line of great FEU guards such as Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia. He did his damage from different areas on the court off the pick-and-roll, dribble handoffs, and was a recipient of a couple of assists from LJay Gonzales. Speaking of which….
LJay Gonzales (14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and three steals)
Gonzales’ play provides the perfect balance for when Comboy take over on offense. His playmaking ability has also given easy baskets for Pat Tchuente and Hubert Cani. He was pesky on defense and kept plays alive thanks to his offensive rebounding.
Alex Diakhite (21 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks)
Don’t let those gaudy numbers fool you; Diakhite struggled in this game mightily, as he scored 11 of his team-high 21 points from the free throw line. It also wasn’t until the second half that the first year center was able to establish himself under consistently, as FEU made it a game plan to keep him off his usual spots. Had he made his two three-point attempts, things would have opened up more for the Red Warriors.
Rey Suerte (17 points and 10 rebounds)
Aside from Diakhite, it was Suerte who was carrying the Red Warriors on offense. Among all the UE players with at least five field-goal attempts to their name, the former CESAFI MVP was the only one who made more than 40 percent of his field goals. Beyond the numbers, he drove to the basket with no fear, at times scoring even with the defensive pressure of Tchuente. The only blemish on his offensive output was his 3-point shooting, as he made only one out of his seven attempts.
- It’s a Guard’s World: The backcourts of both squads stole the show as Comboy, Gonzales, and Suerte made their presence felt. In one play, as Diakhite was driving to the basket, Gonzales swiped the ball away with ease and prevented an easy UE basket. Unfortunately, he stepped out of bounds before he could recover.
- FEU’s guard-reliant system was on full display as Comboy and Gonzales took turns picking apart the Red Warriors with their use of the pick-and-roll action and dribble hand-offs with their big men, most of which resulted in either a 3-pointer for Comboy or a nifty layup from Gonzales.
- Highlights aside, FEU showed why they were the more established team. Their 24 assists to UE’s 12 was a testament to how balanced the scoring was for the Tamaraws, who had 10 out of the 12 players who played score in the win.
- UE’s starters were carrying the load in this game, as Diakhite, Suerte, Nick Abanto, and Jed Mendoza scored 50 of the Red Warriors’ total points. Jem Cruz was the only scoreless starter for UE.
- For the Tamaraws, 46 of their points came from their bench, led by Comboy’s 24. UE on the other hand only had 15 bench points.