MIKE Tolomia has played down talk that Far Eastern University is now his team after veteran stars RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo turned pro.
Tolomia was the team’s third leading scorer last season with averages of 9.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists but mostly stayed in the shadows as Romeo and Garcia took turns leading the Tamaraws.
He also hit a couple of big shots for the Tamaraws including a game-tying three-pointer that completed FEU’s comeback from eight points down against University of the East in regulation to force overtime. The Morayta-based school eventually won the classic contest in double overtime.
The 20-year-old Tolomia admitted he will be a key player for the team next year, but stressed it will still be a collective effort on the part of the Tamaraws under head coach Nash Racela.
“Siguro isa ako sa mga mag-lead pero hindi ko masasabi na ako lang talaga. Sabi nga ni coach Nash (Racela), team pa rin kami next season,” said the brother of former PBA player Chester Tolomia.
The high-flying guard admitted the team was shocked when Romeo, last season’s UAAP Most Valuable Player, signed up as a last-minute entry in the November 3 rookie draft even though he is still eligible to play a final year with the Tamaraws.
“Siyempre, ‘yung kay RR, given na ‘yun dahil wala na siyang playing year at expected na namin ‘yun na wala na siya. Kay Terrence naman, nagulat din kaming lahat na nagpa-draft siya agad pero tingin naman namin, para sa future niya rin ‘yun kaya naiintindihan namin siya,” Tolomia said.
Nevertheless, Tolomia admitted learning a lot playing behind Garcia and Romeo at the backcourt.
“Marami na akong natutunan kila RR at Terrence na kahit ako ‘yung pangatlo sa kanila, doon pa lang sa experience ko na ‘yun sa kanila, marami na akong natutunan for next season,” he said.
Tolomia admitted that he will have to get used to leading from the front, which is why his stint with the Zambales M-Builders in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup will be a big boost for him next season.
And Tolomia readily showed a glimpse of what he is capable of after finishing with 20 points in the M-Builders' victory over Derulo Accelero in Thursday's conference opener.
“Isa rin ako sa inaasahan dito, parang na-pa-practice ko na rin kung paano mag-lead,” Tolomia said.