Unlike in the pro ranks, building a dynasty in collegiate basketball poses more challenges as every year, the landscape and formation of each team undergo drastic changes.
For defending UAAP champions FEU, keeping their hard-earned crown has already taken a big hit right after they won the Season 78 title at the expense of UST.
Six seniors left the Tamaraws’ lair after the run, with their top scorers in Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia and RR Pogoy using up their eligibility along with Russel Escoto, Alfrancis Tamsi and Achie Inigo.
Nigerian reinforcement Prince Orizu, the man in the middle for coach Nash Racela, is well aware of the situation, but remains confident in this iteration of the Green and Gold.
“We can’t really compare our team from last year,” he told FOX Sports. “This year, we have to limit the mistakes and play more as a team. And I’m pretty sure and confident that we can match the intensity of last year.”
“I feel confident that we can grind it out this season. We just have to have each others back and believe in the coaches,” he added.
FEU has not been at its best since the season started, slogging through a 2-2 record through 4 games. In all of their outings, the Tamaraws have had problems finding a consistent go-to guy when the going gets tough.
But their defense has been impressive, especially in their opening game, when they gave heavy favorites La Salle their version of ‘Mayhem’ in a narrow loss.
Orizu knows getting into lethal form is a process — something he and his FEU teammates need to undergo to weather the loss of the most important players from 2015’s champion team.
“We have to play more as a team,” he stressed. “Unlike last year, we still have veterans that can contribute individual talents. I’m not saying we’re not talented this year, but last year they’re more experienced in the UAAP. This year, the rest of us (many are sophomores).”
“I wanna go back to the finals, but like I said it’s one game at a time. Hoping we get back to the Final Four and we’ll see from there.” — By John Chester Fajardo