Denok Miranda made his UAAP coaching debut for Far Eastern University (FEU) facing a tough challenge right away, as the Tamaraws went up against a revamped De La Salle University Green Archers team on Sunday.
Throughout the game, FEU tried to claw its way back. However, the Green Archers, led by Evan Nelle and Kevin Quiambao, proved to be too much, securing an 87-76 victory at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Miranda, who replaced Olsen Racela, admitted to feeling nervous in his first game as the FEU tactician.
“Medyo pinawisan ako ngayon eh, kahit malamig sa MOA, pawis na pawis ako. Excited ako, pero siyempre meron din kaunting kaba,” said Miranda, who was the main playmaker during FEU’s championship runs in 2003 and 2004.
Former members of the Tamaraws showed their support for the team and Miranda, led by two-time UAAP Season MVP Arwind Santos.
Also in attendance were RR Garcia, Barkley Eboña, Ken Tuffin, Alec Stockton, Patrick Tchuente, and FEU women’s head coach Bert Flores.
Grateful for the backing of former Tamaraws who were legends in their own right, Miranda said, “Happy ako na nandiyan sila, parati namang nagsu-support sa akin ‘yang mga ‘yan eh.”
In the game where FEU committed 33 fouls, leading to foul troubles for big men Mo Faty, Cedrickh Ona, and Aeron Bagunu, Miranda joked that he even considered putting Santos in to help secure rebounds for his team.
Santos was a crucial part of the Tamaraws’ three consecutive championships from 2003 to 2005, earning the Finals MVP award twice. He was also a two-time UAAP Defensive Player of the Year and was named Rookie of the Year in Season 65.
“Kulang na lang ipasok ko si Arwind eh para makakuha ng rebound,” Miranda quipped.
“Kasi si (Mike) Phillips at (Kevin) Quiambao, grabe ‘yung rebounding, tapos naubos pa ‘yung mga bigs namin sa mga foul, kaya nag small lineup ako.”