While skipper Raymar Jose did most of the dirty work, veteran guard Monbert Arong took care of the offensive end in defending champion FEU’s 67-59 victory over struggling UE in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
The lefty from Cebu tallied a game-high 16 points while scoring half of the team’s 12 markers in the final canto, enabling the Tamaraws to hold off the Red Warriors’ late rally.
Arong added 5 rebounds and 4 assists against a pair of errors in more than 26 minutes of play, doing his best to help fill up the void left by Ino Comboy, who was sidelined with a concussion he sustained in FEU’s previous practice.
“We envision him to play longer and it’s nice that today he was able to deliver with the minutes entrusted to him,” beamed FEU coach Nash Racela of Arong, who eventually suffered from cramps when the result was already beyond doubt.
“Siguro, sa excitement sa game kasi mga previous game ko, wala ako sa focus. Nabigla lang ata kasi hindi ko in-expect na mataas ‘yung minutes ko ngayon,” said Arong, adding he’s also determined to repay the trust given to him by Racela and his FEU teammates.
“Pero nagpapasalamat ako kina coach pati sa mga teammates ko kasi may tiwala sila sa akin kasi last year ko na ngayon.”
FEU will have a week-long respite before plunging back to action against winless UP on Sept. 25 and Arong feels he has ample time to deal with his cramps issues.
“Pahinga lang ang kailangan kasi malayo pa naman ang game namin,” he said. — By Jerome Lagunzad