MANILA—Both coming off tight victories, Far Eastern University and retooled University of the Philippines collide in the FilOil-Flying V Hanes Pre-Season Premier Cup today.
The favored Tamaraws and the Maroons shoot for a second straight win in the first of three senior games starting at 1:45 p.m. at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.
“They have a good system,” FEU coach Bert Flores said of the Maroons, who recently unveiled 6-foot-7 Nigerian recruit Alinko Mbah. “They’ve gained more experience, especially now that they’re also competing in the D-League.”
San Beda, which dropped two of its first three matches, aims to bounce back versus Lyceum at 3:30 p.m. even as La Salle and Arellano tangle at 5:15 p.m.
The Tamaraws—still a strong contender with a roster powered by UAAP Most Valuable Player RR Garcia and last year’s top rookie Terrence Romeo—got their campaign going in the summer league with a 66-61 triumph over Adamson.
But it’s the Maroons, the team that dropped all 14 games in the last UAAP season, who pulled off one of the early surprises in the tournament with a 65-63 nipping of Letran.
“One of the first words I told them when I arrived in UP was change—a change to a more positive mindset,” said new Maroons coach Ricky Dandan. “We have modest goals, but we’re optimistic as long as the players embrace that new mindset.”
Veteran guard Mike Gamboa nailed the game-winner for the Maroons, who also drew strong games from Mbah, Mike Silungan and Carlo Gomez.
Flores expects the Tamaraws, who boast a solid crew that also includes JR Cawaling, Aldrech Ramos and Pipo Noundou, to do better than their previous outing where they blew a double-digit lead late in the game.
“There was still a tendency to relax and there were many lapses,” said Flores. “We also have to improve on our defense.”
Three junior matches kick off the six-game bill of the tournament presented by Pioneer Mighty Bond Xtreme and Elastoseal with major sponsors Filoil, Flying V, Total Phils., Gerry’s Grill, BDO, Oxycan, Bayo, Cobra Energy Drink, TMS Ship Agencies, San Marino Corned Tuna and Molten.
The Philippine Youth under-13 squad tackles Letran at 8:30 a.m. Mapua and FEU clash at 10:15 a.m. while Ateneo and Arellano collide at 12 noon.