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FEU’s defensive assassins on their special roles

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Many predicted the Far Eastern University Tamaraws to win the UAAP Season 78 Championship before the tournament began, and many were right.

It was, after all, an easy bet to make after a glance at their lineup – the product of years of careful player development and relentless scouring for talent throughout the southern isles. They virtually had six viable PBA prospects, with guys on the bench who could start for any other UAAP school.

Their depth proved crucial in their recently-concluded Finals showdown with the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers. Their top-heavy España neighbors had them on the ropes in Game Three last Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena, but FEU’s pro-bound seniors responded down the stretch to deliver their alma mater its 20th Men’s Basketball title.

But it wasn’t all Mac Belo, Rogey Pogoy, or Mike Tolomia – none of those three played more than 27 minutes in the match. When they were brought in, FEU’s bench brigade performed brilliantly. Last Wednesday, FEU’s two “defensive specialists” – Francis Tamsi and Ron Denisson – softened up the Tigers in pivotal moments of the game.

Graduating guard Francis Tamsi hopped off the bench in the third quarter and hit back-to-back triples that sparked a 10-0 FEU run to break a first-half deadlock. All season, Coach Nash Racela called Tamsi’s number when an opposing perimeter player needed special attention. Tamsi always delivered. In their three-game saga against the Tigers, Tamsi had his turn shackling UST’s main gunners, mainly the stoic Eduardo Daquioag. Tamsi was key in keeping Daquioag and, later on, Marvin Lee.

“Sabi lang sa akin ni Coach Nash, kailangan ko ma-stop ‘yung dinedepensahan ko, kahit sino pa man ‘yun. Kung anumang offense ‘yung naibigay ko, bonus na lang ‘yun,” replied Tamsi when asked about his contributions in Game Three. “May mga roles kasi kami sa team – stopper lang talaga dapat ako. Mas importante sa akin na nakatulong ako sa pag-execute ng gameplan namin.”

Tamsi had taken a leap of fate when he transferred from the Bohol Institute of Technology to a school right in the heart of Manila. Having been the star in his former school for two years, the Boholano knew he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for FEU, even if it meant having to scrape for playing time in FEU’s vaunted guard rotation.

“Sobrang sulit po nang paglipat ko sa FEU. Wala naman pong problema sa kahit sino sa amin kung sino ang gamitin ni coach. Basta pag pinasok na kami, go hard lang. Wala po talagang inggitan – tinuro po sa amin ni coach noong umpisa pa lang na para manalo, kakailanganin namin ang isa’t isa,” said the former Super Cruiser.

After Tamsi’s heroics in the third quarter, third-year combo guard Ron Denisson took his turn in the fourth period. With UST making a potentially game-winning run, Denisson hunkered down and and got crucial turnovers that helped clinch the title. Denisson was everywhere – on the floor diving for loose balls, right up Ed Daquiaog’s face on defense, up in the air grabbing rebounds, and even in one of UST’s huddles before a Tiger pushed him out.

As the Thomasian crowd booed his antics, the Cebuano smirked and giggled with his teammates. He loved playing the villain.

“Sakin lang, masaya ako kasi nasisira ‘yung laro nila. Role ko kasi is dumepensa at tanggalin sila sa laro,” the University of Visayas alumni explained. “Masaya ako na nadedepensahan ko ‘yung mga star player ng kalaban tapos role player lang naman ako sa amin.”

Like Tamsi, Denisson had to make sure he was ready when coach Nash needed his pesky defense throughout the season. “Hindi ko nga po talaga inakala na maisasali ako sa team noong simula,” Denisson recalled. “Ang dami po kasi talagang gustong maglaro sa FEU. Naging advantage ko na lang po siguro ‘yung depensa ko kaya doon ako nag-concentrate. Basta kailangan makatulong ako sa team.”

Talk to anyone on the FEU roster, and they will echo similar sentiments – that they just did their part, that they trusted coach Nash, and that they could to help the team. With so many great moments and players, Tamsi and Denisson might not get mentioned too much in tales of FEU’s Season 78 run.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter to them. They’re champions.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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1 Comment
  • Ken Rick

    Masaya siyang nagmumukhang epal yung role niya sa laro. Hahahah laugh trip din to si Dennison eh esp nung huddle ng UST sa game 3. lol

Basketball

Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan cut from pool

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SMART Gilas Pilipinas’ third session for the second leg of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers ended early on Monday evening.

Prior to the end of the practice, head coach Chot Reyes talked to team veterans Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, and June Mar Fajardo. The outspoken mentor told the seniors of the team that he is cutting Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan from the pool.

“The reason why we’re dropping Abueva and Almazan for the second window is because they haven’t showed up,” lamented Reyes.

“It’s already our third practice at hindi pa sila nagpapakita. It’s simply a matter of disinterest.

“I guess they’re not interested so we have to move on we can’t wait for those guys,” he pointed out.

Both Abueva and Almazan were part of the teams that competed in the 2017 SEABA Championship, the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, and the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Only 10 players from the pool showed up for the team’s third session. And with the second leg exactly one month away, Gilas cannot let a slip up happen especially against Australia.

“Aside from those two we don’t know where Matt Wright is, while Allein [Maliksi] is attending a wedding in Australia. Other than that it’s really just an issue of Calvin and Raymond if they don’t want to be a part of the pool.” expressed Reyes.

“That’s the reason we’re dropping them for the second window.”

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

23 for 2023 cadets fill up Gilas practice

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With just 31 days until the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, only 10 players from the pool attended the team’s third session, Monday evening at the Meralco Gym.

Suiting up in the session presided over by Coach Chot Reyes were June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Roger Pogoy. Carl Cruz and Jayson Castro were in attendance but were in street clothes.

Not present were Matthew Wright, Japeth Aguilar, and Allein Maliksi. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend practice.

Joining the seniors team to prep them up for the World Cup Qualifiers were 10 players from the 23 for 2023 pool.

Ateneo Blue Eagle Matt Nieto attended his first Gilas practice. Joining him were teammates Isaac Go and Thirdy Ravena.

Completing the night’s cast were CJ Perez, Abu Tratter, Will Gozum, J-jay Alejandro, Arvin Tolentino, and Juan Gomez de Liano. Joshua Sinclair watched from the sidelines as he is still recovering from an ACL injury.

Gilas will take on Australia in Melbourne on February 22. The Philippine will then host Japan three days later at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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CSJL

San Beda fends off Letran for back-to-back wins

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With seasoned setter John Carlo Desuyo steering the wheel to near perfection, the San Beda College romped to their second straight win.

The Red Spikers pulled double-digit outings from four players to upend archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 19-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-22, and register their fourth win of the season, Monday early evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

It was the Knights, however, who started on the right foot, overhauling a 4-10 deficit to snag the first set. Better passing from liberos Aljune Centeno and Johnsen Timbreza resulted in kills from captain Bobby Gatdula.

Nonetheless, San Beda picked up the service game in the next three sets to ultimately finish off the blue-shirts.

Despite the win-loss record they currently sport, the Red Spiker playmaker admitted that t

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Basketball

Michael Calisaan tows Che’lu-San Sebastian past Perpetual

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Photo by PBA Images

Michael Calisaan poured 20 points as he captained newcomer Che’Lu-San Sebastian Revellers to a decisive 83-70 win over the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas to start their voyage, Monday evening at the Pasig City Sports Center.

Doing it all for the Revellers, the veteran forward provided the stability for his side as he shot 8-of-15 from the field while also hauling down nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the conference-opening win.

But it wasn’t all Calisaan as Che’Lu got contributions from all over its roster.

Samboy de Leon chimed in 16 markers and nine boards. RK Ilagan went 2-of-5 from threes to collect 13 points, eight dimes, and three rebounds, while big men Alfred Batino and Jeepy Faundo combined for 20 in the victory.

Despite the triumph, coach Stevenson Tiu gave all the praise to his players, noting the team’s lack of time preparing for the tourney.

“Nanalo kami dahil sa talent ng players. Medyo mali ko rin kasi nahirapan pa ako mag-adjust sa players. Hopefully, we play much better in the coming games,” he said.

The Revellers used a 16-4 run to finally break away from the Altas, taking a 77-60 lead with 4:03 to play as they punished their foes for their turnovers, turning Perpetual’s 30 miscues to 28 points in their favor.

Prince Eze anchored the Altas with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks in their first game under new head coach Frankie Lim.

Che’lu-San Sebastian look to make it two in a row when they take on the Wangs-Letran Couriers on Monday, January 29 at 5:00pm. Perpetual, on the other hand, hope they can notch their first win when they take on Mila’s Lechon Mighty Roasters.

The Scores:

Che’lu-SSCR 83 — Calisaan 20, De Leon 16, Ilagan 13, Batino 10, Faundo 10, Bulanadi 6, Costelo 6, Calma 2, David 0, Lao 0, Santos 0, Valdez 0.

UPHSD 70 — Eze 15, Coronel 13, Villanueva 13, Jimenez 9, Charcos 7, Peralta 7, Gallardo 5, Pido 1, Antonio 0, Aurin 0, Tamayo 0, Tongco 0.

Quarterscores: 17-22, 34-38, 59-53, 83-70.

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