SAYING it can no longer compete with well-funded college programs in the recruitment war for high school standouts, Far Eastern University is now eyeing college transferees to beef up its roster for future UAAP seasons.
FEU coach Nash Racela bared the Tamaraws' change of tactics to Spin.ph, saying they are already targeting several players from smaller colleges in Manila and other provinces who could play for the Tamaraws in the UAAP.
“We are targeting six to eight players who will be available for 2015,” Racela said. “These are college players. Kasi hindi kami makalaban sa high school (recruitment) so ibang direction kami.”
“”Yung iba sa Manila, ’yung iba sa provinces na hindi ina-eye ng mga college,” he added.
Aside from the lesser competition, Racela said one advantage of getting players from the college ranks is that most of them have games and bodies that are ready for the UAAP game.
The development and maturing process is therefore a lot shorter, he added.
“Now, we are looking at college players who are right away ready sa game nila physically at hindi na namin hihintayin,” Racela said.
But the second-year FEU coach admitted that the change in direction was primarily prompted by the realization that the school can no longer compete in gthe recruitment of high-profile players coming out of high school.
Only last year, FEU failed to keep two-time juniors MVP Jerie Pingoy, who was supposed to be an integral piece in the Tamaraws' future. Instead the Baby Tamaraw star moved to Ateneo where he is now spending residency.
From this year's graduating batch alone, blue-chip prospects have either opted to go to Ateneo (Arvin Tolentino, Thirdy Ravena) or De La Salle (Prince Rivero) or the Sy-owned National University.
Racela is glad to see Philippine youth team member Richard Escoto opt to stay with FEU after playing high school ball ith the Baby Tamaraws. FEU high school players JJ Domingo, Roger Domingo, and David Completo are also attending Tamaraws practices.
Another tactic of FEU is to get young, tall players before they attract the attention of college recruiters and train them at the school's sprawling campus in Diliman, in the hope of getting a diamond in the rough.
“Kasi dalawa ’yung direction namin. It’s either we get players who are ready sa college or we get really, really young guys na hindi kinuha. Marami kaming ganun,” said Racela.
"I think we have 16 to 18 year old players na 6-foot-3 to 6-6. We are hoping that in two to three years time, they will be ready," he added.