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Pogoy’s trust in Racela’s system bears fruit

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Roger Pogoy is a guaranteed starter for any squad in collegiate basketball today.

The fifth-year Tamaraw could easily drop 20 points and five assists a night. In any other collegiate team, he is an undeniable starter. Pogoy though chose to buy into the vision and system of third-year Far Eastern University Tamaraw head coach Nash Racela.

After last season’s Finals series against the National University Bulldogs that saw Pogoy perform a vanishing act as his production dropped game after game, the Cebuano worked double-time in the off-season for that one goal: a championship to end his five-year run with the Morayta-based squad.

A stint with the Sinag Pilipinas pool gave Pogoy the mental toughness for the grind of the collegiate season. Moreover, he spent extra hours in practice to work on his shooting and playmaking.

Finally, he and the other five seniors of the team bought in to Racela’s system of constant ball movement and active defense. However, believing and trusting that system entails sacrificing individual numbers for the team.

“Heading into this season we knew we had a team that was, on the physical and skill level and also on the mental aspect, probably the best team since the Arwind Santos-era,” FEU Athletics Director Mark Molina said during the post-game scrum after Game Three.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Pogoy's trust in Racela's system bears fruit    “I think this is the only championship team I can remember that had no one winning an individual award but they could’ve easily done so,” Molina said pointing to seniors Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, and Roger Pogoy.

The maturity and leadership of Pogoy was evident all throughout the season, averaging 10.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in just 20 minutes of court time. He then upped the ante in the playoffs as he increased his output across the board in posting norms of 14.3 points, four boards, and two dimes.

Pogoy capped his five-year UAAP journey with an all-around performance in the game-clinching match of the Finals that will make any professional scout salivate. After Kevin Ferrer’s heroics in Game Two, Belo and Pogoy made it their responsibility to not just contest every shot attempt of the UST skipper but to completely deny him the ball. The two wingmen took turns in hounding Ferrer for 40 straight minutes.

“Sobrang hirap! Kasi nung Game 2, grabe siya eh,” Pogoy said about his batchmate and fellow Gilas Cadet teammate Kevin Ferrer. “Siya yung gumawa. Kaya yun, na stop naman [namin].”

On the other end, Pogoy almost single-handedly won the championship for FEU when he trimmed the lead of the University of Santo Tomas and delivered the go-ahead trey late in the fourth quarter for the Tamaraws. The Growling Tigers never recovered.

After finally winning the big one, Pogoy could not hide the relief of finally getting the monkey of their back in exclaiming, “Sobrang saya. Sobrang blessed. Thank you Lord! Ayun. Sobrang saya ko. Sobrang blessed ko!”

Even during the furious 16-0 UST rally that saw their neighbors go up 57-51 with 6:03 remaining, Pogoy disclosed that he and the team were never worried that the title is slipping away once more. “Wala. Kaya nga sinabi palagi ni coach Nash na relax lang, atin ito. Kaya dun, nagfocus lang kami,” Pogoy recalled. “Execute lang nang maayos. Yun naman. Buti nakahabol.”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Pogoy's trust in Racela's system bears fruit    His mentor Nash Racela has seen continuous progress ever since his start in 2013. FEU finished 3rd and 2nd in Seasons 76 and 77 respectively. Pogoy emphasized how instrumental Racela was to FEU now that they finally won the championship, “sobrang blessed namin kasi siya yung naging coach namin eh. Sobrang bait na coach. Wala akong nakitang ganyang coach.”

Pogoy is one of a handful of Tamaraws who played their last collegiate game last Wednesday. While Pogoy and his fellow seniors are regarded as the core of their team, he appreciated the fact that a lot of their younger teammates stepped up during the course of the season. “Kung hindi din sa kanila, hindi kami mag-champion. Laking tulong nila sa amin. Yan talaga yung strength namin eh,” he told Tiebreaker Times. “Malalim ang bench namin this season kaya nakakapahinga kami minsan. Kasi last year dun kami nauubos dahil wala kaming bench.”

FEU will have to rebuild now that the likes of Pogoy, Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia are done in the UAAP. Nevertheless, Pogoy is still confident for FEU’s future because of Racela. “Alam naman natin na sobrang galing ni coach Nash diyan eh. Tiwala naman kami kay coach Nash kung anong gagawin niya next year sa mga players,” the senior added. “Marami namang matitira. Nadiyan naman si Jose, Dennison, Arong. Kaya nila yan.”

Numerous pundits have noted that Pogoy had shown he is PBA material in his last games for FEU. Not one for individual recognition, Pogor shrugged it off. “Hindi. Siguro bunga lang sa hard work and prayer. Yun, siguro ganun lang talaga.”

“Si Lord na bahala. Baka magpa-draft na ako eh.”

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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