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Emphasis on defense, maximizing depth doing wonders for Tams

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Pegged as this season’s favorites to win the crown, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws have been nothing short of poised and dominant.

When they began their campaign against the Ateneo Blue Eagles last week, they quickly sent out a strong message by smashing them with an 88-64 rout. However, the Tamaraws, uncharacteristically, fell short to UST in their next game by a point, 72-71, after a turnover-heavy performance.

The Tamaraws quickly regained traction and rebounded from their loss against UST with a commanding blowout of the De La Salle University Green Archers, 93-75, at the Mall of Asia Arena last Sunday.

“We’ve always emphasized on playing defense. Sabi namin that’s the way we beat Ateneo in our first game. All of a sudden against UST we didn’t play any kind of defense. Actually, binalik lang namin [against La Salle] ang focus namin on defense,” FEU Head Coach Nash Racela said. “The players were really up to the challenge. Nakita naman nila na when they work hard, they will reap benefits.”Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Emphasis on defense, maximizing depth doing wonders for Tams

Adding more info in FEU’s early season success, their superb bench play and emphasis on outside shooting has been key to their hot start, and their fluid execution of the dribble-drive motion offense. After three games played, the Tamaraws are averaging 39.3 bench points per game, and they have been shooting the lights out from three-point land by knocking down 38 percent of their shots. They are also averaging 27 three-point shot attempts and they usually nail 10 makes per game.

FEU also makes the most out of its uncontested shots. They currently hold a record of having 12 uncontested field goal attempts per game, and they are averaging norms of 7 uncontested field goal makes per contest.

Furthermore, Racela also made it a point to make his rotations deeper this, season which makes his regular players less fatigued. Racela has deployed at least 12 players per game, and luckily for his Tamaraws, most of the players picked from the bench delivered in key stretches during their last three games.

“It’s the design of our team this year. If nagkaroon kami ng problema sa isa, other guys are ready to fill in that spot. I think we were lucky kasi halos lahat [can nail outside shots]. That is a luxury we have this year,” Racela added. “But I don’t want na biglain ang rookies, dahan-dahan lang. Pero [in our game against DLSU] tinawag sila ng tadhana pero nakadeliver naman.”

No doubt, FEU will continue to play like championship contenders and display excellent teamwork in their upcoming games. However, Racela also noted that this year’s UAAP Season always has the flavor of upsets, surprises, and the emergence of the unlikeliest of heroes. If they can duplicate their selfless play during their matchups with Ateneo and La Salle, they will surely be a headache to other opposing teams.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Emphasis on defense, maximizing depth doing wonders for Tams    “Actually, I was kind of scared to face La Salle after that loss to UST because I didn’t know on how we’ll react. Pero tuwang-tuwa ako to see them play as team again,” Racela remarked. “The challenge for us is how will we be able sustain that kind of performance. That is the challenge for us the whole year. The UAAP is very unpredictable.”

Now, next in line for FEU will be the rejuvenated UP Fighting Maroons this coming Sunday, 4:00 pm, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Paghahandaan namin siyempre and every team is tough in the UAAP. UP, even if they lost [against UST], pinakita nila kung anong klaseng team sila. Mahirap silang hindi paghandaan. Every game, the objective is to win. Kahit sinong kalaban, iyan naman ang objective ng every team.”

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