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What is Tiger Heart?



In a recent interview Tiebreaker Times had with Smart Elite ambassador Kevin Ferrer, University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers skipper ended our conversation in saying that that the collegiate basketball fans should expect more “Tiger Heart” from the Growling Tigers come the Final Four.

But what is Tiger Heart?

Tiger Heart is enjoying the moment.Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times What is Tiger Heart? News

Second year UST head coach Bong Dela Cruz has always emphasized in his post-game scrums that his team should just enjoy. “Kelangan nila enjoy-in maglaro ng depensa,” he said after one of their three losses, “nag-enjoy lang sila maglaro ng depensa,” he said in another scrum. And after the Growling Tigers’ blowout victory against the Adamson Soaring Falcons in their UAAP Season 78 regular season finale, Dela Cruz shared that they will just enjoy preparing for the Final Four. “Madami pa kami kelagan iimprove as a team. Kelangan namin i-enjoy yung practice namin para sa Final Four,” he said.

Tiger Heart is overcoming adversities.Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times What is Tiger Heart? News

Last season, Smart Elite ambassador succumbed to an elbow injury last UAAP Season that made him miss more than half of the games. “Last year kasi nasa bench lang ako e,” Ferrer shared. “Gusto ko talaga makatulong sa team pero nakakalungkot lang, wala akong magawa.”

But instead of sulking, Ferrer used this as motivation to become a better player. This season, he is posting norms of 17.9 points on a 40% clip, 2 triples, and 8.2 boards per game but, more importantly, has become the vocal leader of the top-seeded team in the Final Four. “Nagdasal lang talaga ako and nag-set ng goal na makatulong ako sa team ko,” he disclosed.

Tiger Heart is being level-headed.Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times What is Tiger Heart? News

The UST Growling Tigers have been the only team this season to sweep perenial-favorites, the FEU Tamaraws, in the regular season. “Sobrang laking bagay nun para sa kumpiyansa namin. Kami lang naka-sweep sa kanila,” Ferrer shared about the feat. However, the King Tiger quickly added that this does not mean that they are the best collegiate team in the country right now. “Pero lagi ko sinasabi sa teammates ko, ‘huwag lumaki yung ulo dahil dun.’”

“Hindi naman yun yung goal namin, tatlo pang panalo.”

Tiger Heart is sticking for each other.Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times What is Tiger Heart? News

In an article by Migs Flores earlier this season, he stated that the UST Growling Tigers have been a solid squad both on and off the court. The writer of the piece dubbed this as “family ball” and it’s not just a schtick.

During their post game scrums, it is visible that Bong Dela Cruz and his three captains are more tight-knit compared to a year ago. “There’s no more drama and we are all close sa team ngayon,” fifth-year foreign student-athlete Karim Abdul shared with Tiebreaker Times early in the first round. And in their second-round win against the National University Bulldogs, Abdul emphasized that he cannot let his team lose as they worked hard for where they are right now.

Come Sunday, the Growling Tigers will hold a twice-to-beat advantage against the NU Bulldogs in the other semifinals of the 78th Season of the UAAP. When asked about what we could expect from the Espana cagers come the Final Four, Ferrer simply smiled and quipped, “Tiger Heart.”

Whatever Tiger Heart may mean, one thing is for certain: it has only led to great things for the UST Growling Tigers this season.

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