The Far Eastern University Tamaraws turned a lot of us into fools last season when they marched onto the Finals despite losing their two megastar guards RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo (who by now is a sensation on the international basketball scene and the found long-lost love of the Taiwanese Juliet). Wtih the defense-savvy NU Bulldogs clamped down their dribble-drive motion offense in Games 2 and 3 of their unexpected Finals matchup, they were denied to bag the school’s unprecedented 20th UAAP title. Despite failing to take it all the way in Season 77, they clearly surpassed the expectations put on them. Now that they’ll be bringing back majority of their lineup for Season 78, can they finally get over the hump? Can the FEU Tamaraws, last season’s bridesmaid, be this year’s bride?
Not Missing You, Terrence and RR
Despite the absence of Romeo and Garcia in the lineup in Season 77, the Tamaraws remained one of the premiere offensive squads in the league. They produced 91.9 points per 100 possessions, which was the third best last season. Without a dominant ball handler in their lineup who can disrupt their offensive motions, the Tamaraws were able to get sizable production from a handful of players. Leading them was the athletic forward Mac Belo who had an astronomical PER of 32.1 last season. Mike Tolomia, who was arguably the biggest winner in the departure of RR and Terrence and whose stepbacks and sidesteps are gracious and GIF-worthy, had his best season so far as his numbers suggested. Role players like Achie Inigo, Carl Cruz and Roger Pogoy also posted career-best statlines.
Roster In A Nutshell
The Team That Stays Together, Wins The Title?
It is a scary proposition that the Tamaraws will have nine holdovers from last season including the much-improved and more confident key cogs (Belo, Tolomia and Pogoy). That FEU team that unexpectedly found themselves one win away from the championship in Season 77. What’s even scarier is that they’ll be parading new players who should supplant the departures and fill the team’s glaring holes. Among the newcomers are high school standout Wendel Comboy, Fil-European Ken Holmqvist, and the foreign-born Prince Orizu. All of them will be manning the frontline which was heavily depleted with the exits of Cruz and Anthony Hargrove. One of the clear weaknesses of FEU was their rebounding as they only clobbered 31% of their own misses last season. These three new should provide the inside presence and rebounding prowess that were clearly lacking from the FEU’s bigs last year.
Projected Record: 10-4
Anything less than a Finals appearance should be considered a failure for the FEU Tamaraws. Enough said.