Precious Momowei made an impressive debut for University of the East in the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament, contributing 17 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals in their 80-70 victory over University of Santo Tomas last Saturday.
Momowei’s impact was a sight to behold for Coach Jack Santiago, who finally had an imposing foreign student-athlete to control the paint after not having one last season. The 6-foot-9 big man is the Red Warriors’ first foreign student-athlete since Alex Diakhite back in Season 82.
Well, supposedly Delveion Jackson was UE’s big man for the season but a misunderstanding between Jackson and UE during the off-season resulted to him leaving.
“Actually, to be honest, we are all very hopeless na kami,” said Santiago. “Hopeless na yung team. I just spoke to the president of the school and he told me to be ready with an all-Filipino (lineup) again.
“But we thank the Lord kasi answered prayers talaga sa amin na within the time na kailangan ipasa yung mga documents and papers, dumating na naging clear yung papeles ni Precious. It goes to some of my players also, not because of the papers, but yung mga grades nila. Good thing na naayos lahat before the deadline of the eligibility.”
While Momowei played well, it could be argued that he had an easier time in the game because Growling Tigers’ center Adama Faye was limited to just eight minutes of action due to injury. Undoubtedly, things will be tougher for him next time.
The Red Warriors will face Malick Diouf and the rest of University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons tomorrow. Diouf, named the Most Valuable Player in Season 85, delivered 20 points, 17 rebounds, and four blocks in UP’s win over Adamson University last Sunday.
No pressure for Momowei then.
“He’s a good player. I’ve watched him many times,” he said.
“It’s going to be a good matchup.”
Last year, the Red Warriors managed to win five games despite fielding an all-Filipino lineup. Momowei’s addition provides them with an extra weapon when facing the UAAP’s larger teams.
While basketball is a team game, some players have a more significant impact than others. Santiago hopes that his new big man can elevate the team to the next level.
“Certainly, it’s going to be a challenging game for us this coming Wednesday. But at least now, it’s a 50-50 chance, as we have a foreign athlete on our side. We will do our best to compete with stronger teams like UP,” he said.