Three-time Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletics Association (UCLAA) champions, National College for Business and Arts (NCBA) Wildcats handled the rebuilding UAAP powerhouse, Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, with relative ease, needing only four quick sets to earn their first win of the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference, presented by PLDT Home Ultera at the FilOIl Flying-V Arena.
Former NU Bulldogs and NCBA guest players, Reyson Fuentes and Edwin Tolentino bolstered the Wildcats’ assault. Tolentino recorded a game-high 15 points, while Fuentes dominated his matchup in the middle blocker spot, going for 11 points with two block kills. According to NCBA Head Coach, Ernesto Balubar, his pair of former UAAP champions should greatly help his team not only for the rest tournament, but also in the long-term, as the pair should provide them with the maturity his team lacks.
“Malaking bagay na nakuha naming ‘yung mga guest player. Sa game talagang alam na nila ‘yung gagawin nila saka malaking tulong sa tulad naming team na medyo bata pa lang. Marami na silang experience sa high-level na competition na sana makuha ng mga players ko,” said Balubar.
In the sets they won, NCBA showed without a doubt that they had more firepower, as the FEU defense struggled to cap multiple NCBA runs. FEU’s only bright spot was their third set performance. Moreover, it was only in that set that the Tams looked like the FEU of old; a noisy, trash-talking bunch that overwhelmed their foes with sheer firepower. However, their confidence quickly petered out in the fourth set, as NCBA quickly picked-off their defensive adjustments.
“May ilang beses na ‘rin namin sila (FEU) nakalaban sa InterCol kaya pakiramdam namin wala kaming kailangan patunayan kasi ilang taon na din kami nasa Top Four ng tournament na ‘yon. Masay kami na nainvite kami sa ganitong tournament. Ang goal ngayon is to get into the semis para hindi naman nakakahiya sa mga sumuporta sa team,” added Coach Balubar.
The Tams earned more points from their blocking (13-5), but were generous with their errors, giving up 29 free points to their foes. Sophomore, Jude Garcia led all Tams with 14 markers, while fellow sophomore, Richard Solis, had 13 points. Veteran spiker, Joshua Barrica made his debut as FEU’s new starting Libero, filling the void left by the Villegas twins. This current iteration of the FEU Tams is mostly made up of rookies and sophomores with veteran Greg Dolor being the only scoring punch left on the team.
The Tams have the reigning NCAA champs, EAC next on July 22 while NCBA will face-off with the Mapua Cardinals on the same day.
NCBA (3) – Tolentino 15, Domingo 13, Fuentes 11, Valenzuela 8, Canlas 6, Oclima C. 3, Nidua 3, Oclima 0, Vicente 0, Nullar 0, Vicente J. (L), Escobido (L)
FEU (1) – Garcia 14, Solis 13, Dolor 8, Bugaoan 7, Quiel 5, Navas 4, Margate 3, Cayaban 2, Margate 1, Paler 0, Barrica (L), Barrica J. (L)