As their tune-up game against Gilas Pilipinas ended in a lopsided manner, the Far Easterm University Tamaraws stayed for a while in the Upper Deck Sports Center. As they usually do, they gathered themselves, listening to what the coaches say.
The friendly itself was disappointing for the Morayta-based cagers, however, as it yielded a 66-95 result, and they played as if they were not the team who had featured in the 2017 Filoil Flying V Premier Cup last June.
But it is also understandable. They faced a Gilas team made up of former collegiate stars, a team that is more seasoned and more than hungry to bring home yet another gold medal in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia
The game wasn’t just a form of assessment for FEU, but it also enabled Gilas cagers Mac Belo and Raymar Jose — two of the finest products FEU’s basketball program produced this decade — to see the current batch of Tamaraws.
And later on, the two forwards, who helped end FEU’s decade-long UAAP championship drought back in 2015, offered their advice to the team.
“Sinabi ko lang sa kanila, ang gagaling naman nila e. Kaya naman nila maglaro,” said last season’s King Tamaraw Raymar Jose.
“Siguro yung leadership lang, na may tatayo sa kanila na ‘pag lamang yung kalaban [hahatakin sila para] maguusap-usap sila sa loob.”
It was only fitting for the 24-year-old Negros Occidental-native to bring up leadership to the team, as he had fulfilled that role back in Season 79. With him leading, the Tamaraws made it all the way through the Final Four.
“Kasi, sila naman maglalaro dun eh, at sila ang gagawa doon sa loob,” added the Cignal HD Hawkeyes big man. “Sinabi ko lang din na laban lang kahit anong mangyari.”
On the other hand, 25-year-old Belo, who was the UAAP Season 78 Finals MVP, iterated to their successors that the UAAP is a whole different animal compared to the pre-season games they have figured in.
“Pinapaalala lang namin na pagdating sa UAAP, hindi ganun kadali yung tournament na yun,” said the Blackwater Elite rookie.
“Kailangan talagang paghandaan, at saka ibigay nila lahat ng best nila at isipin nila lahat ng pinagdaanan nila sa training.”
After the pep talk, the Tamaraws came out of their huddle, giving thanks to their decorated predecessors of the lessons they have learned — lessons they will bring with them as they set their sights for Season 80.