Defending champion FEU, darkhorse UE battle for much-needed win

Down in the cellar in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney, UE coach Derrick Pumaren is urging the Red Warriors to collectively play with a sense of urgency against defending champion FEU on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Red Warriors, considered by many as the darkhorse this year, have struggled to live up to expectations so far, having dropped their first 2 matches, the last a slim 87-88 loss dealt by host UST last September 10.

Pumaren feels his wards have no reason to suffer yet another setback in their 4 p.m. showdown with FEU, which is also eager to bounce back from a 71-76 defeat to Ateneo last Wednesday.

“We have to play with a sense of urgency because we cannot afford to be down 0-3. We need to break into the winning column,” he told FOX Sports via SMS on Saturday.

FEU coach Nash Racela is also raring to see nothing less than a bounce-back performance from the Tamaraws, who are toting a 1-2 card.

“I just want to see our bounce-back attitude. If we were able to do it in our second game (versus Adamson), we should be able to do it again tomorrow,” he said.

Bonbon Batiller and rookie Alvin Pasaol are expected to lead UE’s charge against FEU’s tested crew led by skipper Raymar Jose, Ron Dennison, Cameroon import Prince Orizu and Axel Iñigo. — By Jerome Lagunzad