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FEU Tams relish reunion in PBA NXTGEN Challenge

The PBA All-Star festivities have always been about bonding, and this year’s edition is no different.

Six former FEU Tamaraws are taking part in the 2019 PBA All-Star Weekend in Calasiao, Pangasinan. And they’re all extremely excited to reunite once again and relive their glory days.

“Excited akong makakampi sila ulit,” said Roger Pogoy

“Masaya kasi pagdating pa lang sa hotel pinagsama-sama agad kami. Kami-kami rin yung magkaka-roommate,” said Mike Tolomia, who also played for the FEU Baby Tamaraws. “Kaya nagpapasalamat ako sa PBA sa experience.”

“Sobrang saya talaga nung nagkasama-sama kami, tapos lumabas pa kami as a group. Tumambay kami sa labas night before the game. Dami throwback memories na napagkwentuhan. Puro tawanan at asaran,” said Carl Cruz.

All six players saw action in the NXTGEN game that pitted the Rookies-Sophomores All-Stars against Juniors All-Stars, which served as the main event of the opening day of the festivities, Friday evening.

The quintet of Tolomia, Cruz, Russel Escoto, Pogoy, and Mac Belo represented the Juniors side who had previously formed the Gilas Pilipinas Cadets team, while Raymar Jose was on the Rookies-Sophomores squad.

There was even a point where all the Tams graced the court at once, making it even more nostalgic. The last time they did the same in an FEU uniform was in 2014, during the UAAP Season 77 Finals.

When Cruz left, the quintet of Jose, Tolomia, Escoto, Pogoy, and Belo won the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Basketball crown with FEU. They also towed the Phoniex Fuel Accelerators to the 2015 PBA D-League Aspirants’ and Foundation titles.

“During the game, sakto pinasok kami sabay-sabay. Nakaka-miss, college days,” Escoto reflected.

But it was only Jose who left the Calasiao Sports Complex with a wide smile. His Rookies-Sophomores completed the comeback from 10 points down and won, 141-140, thanks to Javee Mocon’s tip-in of CJ Perez’s miss.

“Yung feeling na nanalo ako, sobrang masaya. Kasi kumbaga lima sila dun — inaasar ko silang lima na talo sila sa amin,” said Jose. “Pero enjoy kami sa isa’t-isat. After kami umuwi kumain muna kami dinner and kwentuhan.”

Those on the Juniors side, meanwhile, felt a bit of regret that they lost.

“Oo siyempre kasi yung group namin na yun, sanay manalo yun eh,” said Tolomia. “Pero siyempre masaya pa rin ako sa game na yun dahil napasaya namin mga tao sa Pangasinan.

“And thank you rin kay coach Topex Robinson na sa isang point ng game pinagsama-sama niya kaming lima.”

But it doesn’t matter who won or who lost. What really mattered the most was the time they spent together.

“Sobrang sayang experience na nangyari sa’min. Magkakasama lang kami sa college dati, pero now nagkita kami sa PBA All-Star,” said Jose. “Sobrang happy namin na lahat ng hard work namin, nakita namin na nagbunga.”

Now, if there’s another chance for the Tamaraws to gather in a similar setting, they won’t hesitate to go.

“Sana if may chance maulit, sana makasama pa ung iba namin teammates like Terrence Romeo and Gryann Mendoza. Ayan talaga yung mga solid FEU boys,” said Cruz, who won three UAAP silver medals with FEU.

“Oo naman, sino ba may ayaw noon,” Escoto said.

“Sana maulit kasi nakaka-miss makalaro ulit sila,” added Tolomia.

“Yes, yes. Sana. tapos kampi na namin si Raymar and sana kasama din namin si Coach Nash [Racela],” said Belo.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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