The FEU Tamaraws did it again, the hard way! With our backs against the wall, we played a fourth must-win game, and beat LaSalle in the dying seconds to earn a sixth consecutive trip to the UAAP final four.
The thriller was a “game for the books” best described by the cool shot-maker Arvin Tolentino who right away deflected credit by saying that his three-point shot with three seconds to go though more dramatic was as important as any shot made by his teammates in the game as in Prince Orizu’s lone foul throw which indeed was just one point but one was our margin of victory in the 71-70 battle.
He added that It was Ken Tuffin’s step-back jumper seconds earlier that gave us a fighting chance; it was Jasper Parker’s key assists that set the stage for the final comeback. And, it was Barkley Ebona whose 16 rebounds (10 of them offensive boards) against the “triple towers” of LaSalle who displayed the meaning of our “Be Brave” mantra as Coach O put it. In brief, it was a team effort by all on the court, off or on the bench.
Courage, Belief and Focus
In our team-building sessions, we have always discussed three elements in our team’s quest:
- Adversity Quotient: Our teammates have experienced adversity in life as in the circumstances of our diverse personal and family backgrounds. What makes our team strong has been our capacity to rise above these setbacks and move on. We do not come from comfortable circumstances, but have battled back from adversity. This is the meaning of the adversity quotient (AQ). Our team has a high AQ. This is the reason why we are one brave team.
- Self/Team Belief: When the Oxford medical student Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile more than six decades ago, people had warned him that it was a barrier no runner could break. But he strove, trained hard, and broke the mile-record. When asked how he did it, his answer was terse: self-belief. This is the same self-belief that the Tamaraws are attempting to cultivate individually and as team. We battled back from four straight defeats, and we played with and for one another, one game at a time. This is the bedrock of our comeback.
- One Step at a Time: In the story of Edmund Hilary’s pioneering climb to Mount Everest, the quest began one step at a time. Though there were difficulties and detours, the summit was reached though it took time. In the dugout, Coach O begins our sessions with a moment of mindfulness; to refocus and remind ourselves that the challenge in the game requires great effort and energy one possession at a time. Patience, resilience and relentless courage.
We play Ateneo in the final four, the third time we play the defending champion Blue Eagles at this stage of the season. We have beaten them before, and we can do so again. We need all hands on deck, all the effort we can muster, our trust in each other, and our readiness to lay our lives on the line. This is what “Be Brave” means: to play with passion because we care, because we play for each other, because we play for our school and for the Tamaraw Nation.