Far Eastern University’s bid to return to prominence in the 78th UAAP men’s volleyball tournament is off to a hot start after fending off pesky University of the Philippines in straight sets.
After dropping out of the Final Four last year, the Tamaraws are back with a vengeance, sweeping the Fighting Maroons, 25-23, 26-24, 25-23, Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
Rookie FEU head coach Reynaldo Diaz revealed his game plan for the entire season.
“We are building a good team relationship. Expect FEU to come back to where we’ve always been: the top four,” a confident Diaz said in Filipino.
The Morayta squad, considered to be one of the strongest empires in the men’s division, surprisingly finished in fifth place last year which, perhaps, prompted the change in the team’s coaching staff.
Veterans Jeric Gacutan and Greg Dolor combined for 20 points while rookie Jude Garcia impressed in his initial outing with a seven-point output for FEU’s winning cause.
On allowing young guns like Garcia to see playing time, Diaz says, “That’s one of our strategies. We want to give rookies like him an opportunity to prove what he can do.”
And while the team’s ego got hurt from last year’s disappointing finish, all that is about to change as the coaches plan on bringing back the intimidation factor that FEU has been known for in the UAAP.
“Actually we focused on building the ‘old FEU,’” shared the mentor, talking about the team’s winning tradition.
“Last year, we lost that intimidation factor,” he added. “Now, we want to bring that back. And we’re starting that by building the team as one.”
The Tamaraws’ mettle will be put to test in their next match where they will face back-to-back defending champion Ateneo.