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FEU’s top big man suspended

Host Far Eastern University didn’t end its first-round campaign in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament the way first-year coach Olsen Racela wanted to on Saturday night.

And the Tamaraws are in for a tougher grind at the start of the second round of play this week – against either defending champion La Salle or powerhouse Ateneo – with the impending absence of top big man Arvin Tolentino.

Arvin Tolentino of the FEU Tamaraws (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Arvin Tolentino of the FEU Tamaraws (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

The 6-foot-5 Tolentino is expected to serve a one-game suspension after he was tossed out due to a pair of unsportsmanlike fouls he incurred in the course of FEU’s 95-79 setback dealt by fellow top Final Four contender Adamson.

After struggling to get anything going off the bench, frustration crept in to Tolentino. He initially swung an elbow to Adamson big man Tyrus Hill’s face in the third quarter then followed it up with an intentional kick to Dawn Ochea during a loose ball play at the 7:40 mark of the fourth, with FEU down by 20 points.

Veteran Ron Denison, Hubert Cani and Barkley Eboña were also slapped with unsportsmanlike fouls while assistant coach Eric Gonzales was also given a technical for improper bench decorum, summing up how the Tamaraws struggled to keep their emotions in check.

“Definitely frustration ‘yun,” admitted Racela. “Things were not going our way in the game. But then again it’s part of discipline e. Stay with the gameplan. Stay with the things that brought us a (three-game) winning streak. We didn’t see those.”

Tolentino, the Season 77 Rookie of the Year awardee, could only score seven points and failed to grab a rebound in 16 minutes of play, a far cry from his average of 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in their first six matches.

“Kinausap ko siya na kailangan ng disiplina,” added Racela. “Hindi pwedeng ganun. When you’re down, hindi lumalabas ang katapangan mo sa mga extra motions. I told him ‘it’s not about him but it’s about the team.’ Ngayon magsa-suffer ang team dahil sa ginawa niya.”

Although they remained at fourth spot with a 4-3 mark, Racela knows the Tamaraws still have plenty to prove to underscore their readiness to make a deep playoff run after falling prey to what he considers as “the top teams.”

“Actually all three of our losses are from the top three teams so wala pa kaming napo-prove until we beat those teams,” he stressed. (Jerome Lagunzad)