BAYUGAN CITY, AGUSAN DEL SUR—Reigning UAAP champions Far Eastern University Tamaraws capped off a glowing week with a championship, ruling the Mayor Kim Lope A. Asis 1st Collegiate Invitational Basketball Tournament after defeating the University of the Visayas Green Lancers, 88-63, in the final on Wednesday.
Just hours after it was reported that former UAAP Rookie of the Year Arvin Tolentino has transferred to FEU to join his fellow former Ateneo teammate Hubert Cani in an incredible recruitment coup, the Tamaraws found more reason to celebrate with a dominant performance that boosted their morale ahead of their title defense in Season 79 this September.
“I can’t really say what this means for our campaign in the UAAP but this tournament is an important tool for us," said FEU coach Nash Racela. "We just try to always do the right thing. We always try to be consistent and my players passed the test in this competition."
With a host of players led by former stalwarts Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo and Roger Ray Pogoy all gone from the team, Racela went to his shocktroopers who responded with impressive performances, none more noteworthy than that of much-improved big man Kevin Barkley Ebona who led the team in scoring with 17 points.
Fellow big men Prince Orizu and Raymar Jose also helped the Tams dominate down low with 12 markers each.
"We lost six veterans who gave us an average of 53 points. That's why I always point out to my players to always go hard on defense to compensate the scoring that we are going to miss," shared Racela.
UV actually led, 27-24, but the well suddenly went dry and FEU capitalized by scoring 14 unanswered to build a 38-27 lead. The Tams tightened the screws on defense some more in the fourth and held the Green Lancers to a mere four points in a seven-minute stretch to raise their lead to a high of 30, 86-56, 2:24 to go.
Rey Suerte notched 16 markers for UV while Bassiere Sackor and Josue Segumpan contributed 14 and 12, respectively.