Backup big Barkley Eboña takes charge
MANILA, Philippines – Heading to their crucial playoff knockout bout against the La Salle Green Archers, the FEU Tamaraws fully expected to be outmanned in terms of size.
Graduating big man Prince Orizu was the Tamaraws’ lone starter-level big man expected to match up against the Archers’ 4 pillars of Justine Baltazar, Santi Santillan, Taane Samuel and Brandon Bates.
But in just 8 scattered minutes of action, Orizu fouled out amid the Archers’ relentless inside strikes. This forced the hand of head coach Olsen Racela to plug in backup big Barkley Eboña to extended minutes yet again, just like the games where Orizu was out with a shin injury.
Much to the surprise of La Salle, Eboña proved to be just as bruising and fearless as their Nigerian anchor, if not more at least for that day.
When the dust settled, the 6-foot-5 workhorse endured cramps from extended time on the floor and finished with a 12-point, 16-rebound double-double – helping FEU eliminate La Salle in a thrilling 71-70 win. In those 16 boards, 10 came from the offensive end.
As such, head coach Olsen Racela could only give his praises for the former CESAFI product.
“He just typifies the ‘Be brave’ spirit of FEU,” he said. “The way he goes for those rebounds, the way he defends. He had 10 offensive rebounds. That kid has a lot of heart. He gave us a lot of extra possessions in this game. Kina-cramps na nga siya noong huli eh. Nilabas ko, then na-foul out si Prince so kinailangan ko siya ibalik.”
(He was already cramping near the end. I subbed him out, then Prince fouled out so I had to put him back.)
The soft-spoken big man was likewise thankful to coach “Rahrah.”
“Kailangan ko lang siguro bigay ‘yung best ko tapos kung ano task na binigay sa’kin ni coach O. Kumbaga sinuklian ko lang ‘yung tiwalang binigay niya sa’kin,” he said while enduring teasing from his teammates. “Fouled out si Prince nang ‘di inaasahan eh.”
(Maybe I just needed to give my best in every task given by coach O. Basically, I just repaid the trust he gave me. Prince fouled out unexpectedly.)
“Inisip ko na lang na wala nang bukas,” he said. “Bigay ko na lahat. Kung ano man mangyari, wala nang magagawa. Basta at the end of the day, wala akong pinagsisihan.”
(I just thought that there’s no more tomorrow. I would give it my all. Whatever happens, there’s nothing else left to be done. At the end of the day, I don't want to have any regrets.)
With FEU now advancing to their sixth straight playoffs, those regrets, whatever they may be, could be shelved for another day. – Rappler.com