Far Eastern University struggled in the past season after fielding an all-Filipino lineup without a towering presence to defend against the big men of its opponents.
The Lady Tamaraws only managed to secure two wins in 14 games, both against the University of the East, which ended up winless.
However, FEU’s Season 86 Women’s Basketball campaign proved to be different with the arrival of Congolese center Josee Kaputu. She dazzled right away in her UAAP debut against last year’s runner-up, De La Salle University.
Kaputu delivered an impressive 27 points on an efficient 12-of-19 shooting from the field while also grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out three assists. More importantly, the Lady Tamaraws dominated the Lady Archers from start to finish.
They cruised to a wire-to-wire 75-68 victory on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“Masaya talaga kasi syempre yung hardwork mo ng four months of preparation, (nagbunga). Last season kasi two months lang. Ang hirap eh ang mga player ko mga tryout, mga tira-tira na lang eh at wala pa kaming import,” said FEU head coach Bert Flores.
“This time siguro masarap dahil last year kasi ang kulang namin FSA eh. Laging sasabihin, kulang mo FSA lang talaga, okay yung local.”
Kaputu has been with FEU since 2020 but returned home to Congo during the pandemic. That’s why when she rejoined the Lady Tamaraws, she didn’t need to make many adjustments.
Despite her explosive debut, Kaputu deflected the credit to her coaches and teammates.
“I’m proud of my coach. It’s because of my coach that I give my best. I’m proud of my teammates. I know that when we give our best, we get good results this season,” said the dominant big presence in the paint.
In their tune-up games during their preparation for the season, Kaputu had already shown a lot of promise, but her teammates were missing.
Flores was delighted that against La Salle, the local players stepped up and provided the much-needed support to Kaputu.
Queenie Aquino scored 13 points, while Jamerin Delos Santos added 10. MJ Manguiat chipped in nine points of her own.
“Marami kasi kaming tune-up na ganon, import nang import. Sabi ko suportahan naman natin si Josee. Maganda itong first game, okay yung mga locals ko, sumuporta tulad ni Queenie Aquino at ni Delos Santos,” said the long-time FEU coach.
“Kaya sabi ko suportahan natin si Josee sa unang laro natin against La Salle, agad-agad runner-up yan, tayo seventh. Malaking bagay rin ito diba? Pampataas ng kumpyansa ito.”