February 21, 2024

School Spirit: FEU starting five among active players in PBA

School Spirit: FEU starting five among active players in PBA
Art by Royce Nicdao

The UAAP and the PBA will forever be linked. The former serves as a place where future basketball stars are born and the latter is the platform that allows the promising hoopers to become certified hardwood heroes. 

It’s that simple, really.

Well, to make the simple a bit complicated and lots of fun, we've started a series where we form a starting five out of active PBA players who hail from the same UAAP school. The PBA guys from the UST Growling Tigers, Adamson Soaring Falcons, and Ateneo Blue Eagles have already been named. Now, it’s time for the FEU Tamaraws legends to take center stage.

RR Garcia (Season 72 to Season 76)

During his best years in the UAAP, Garcia was arguably the most lethal scoring guard, along with his equally explosive backcourt mate Terrence Romeo. Garcia's offensive prowess won him an MVP plum and propelled the Tams to two finals appearances. Yep, in case you forgot, Garcia was nice like that.

In the PBA, the Zamboanga City native has become a journeyman. But that’s not a knock on his skills. It’s more of a testament to his highly coveted ability to get buckets. At the moment, Garcia serves as a handy flamethrower for the Phoenix Fuel Masters, whom coach Mike Jarin can readily use at any given moment.

Terrence Romeo (Season 73 to Season 76)

In the UAAP, The Bro was a scoring machine, a Rookie of the Year awardee, and an MVP. Once he started figuring things out, there was no stopping him. Romeo was a scoring specialist armed with skills that would remind you of Kyrie Irving.

In the PBA, The Bro is a superstar and a three-time scoring champion. Once he suited up for the San Miguel Beermen, he finally played to his immense talent. With SMB, he won two chips and was named Finals MVP of the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.

ALSO READ: Terrence Romeo's true reaction to missing out on gold medal in Asian Games with Gilas

Mac Belo (Season 75 to Season 78)

Belo played like the quintessential small forward during his UAAP heydays. He can do it all, including nailing walk-off game-winners. That’s exactly what he did to eliminate the De La Salle Green Archers and the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the Final Four in Season 77 and Season 78, respectively. He left FEU as a champion and a Finals MVP.

In the PBA, Belo went off to a solid start as he averaged double digits in scoring, accompanied by across-the-board numbers in his first three seasons for Blackwater Bossing. His rise, however, was slowed down by injuries. Now, Belo is on the comeback trail as a member of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

Arvin Tolentino (Season 80 to Season 81)

Tolentino started off his college career by claiming Rookie of the Year honors in Season 77 as a Blue Eagle. But it was in Morayta where he finished his colorful UAAP stint. With FEU, he showed how prolific he can be. His flashes of brilliance, however, were marred by several run-ins with opposing players, which resulted in facepalm-inducing suspensions.

To his credit, Arvin got his act together in the PBA. At 28 years old, the 6-foot-5 cager has two chips under his belt and is playing the part of the league’s next great superstar quite well. Recently, NorthPort Batang Pier’s top gun went viral for dunking over PBA legend Gabe Norwood in a game wherein he scored 35 huge points as well.

He's become so good, he's also part of Ateneo's lineup in this series.

Aldrech Ramos (Season 71 to Season 74)

Ramos was truly one of the most reliable big men during his amateur days, most notably in his final three UAAP seasons. You may describe him as FEU’s long and lean double-double machine. The lengthy Cebuano’s board work and dependable midrange jumper were instrumental in making him a two-time UAAP Mythical Five member and the 2012 PBA Draft’s fifth overall pick.

In the pros, Ramos’ 6-foot-6 frame and neat skill set have allowed him to stay in the league for 11 years and counting. That’s no small feat, considering how volatile an athlete’s career can be. Being a two-time PBA champion, the 35-year-old tweener utilizes his experience and veteran smarts to help the Terrafirma Dyip.

Breaking down the team

Say everyone’s in their prime, these FEU greats have the potential to beat any other starting five in an all-Filipino setting. They have firepower, they have good size, plus, no one will be forced to play out of his natural position. All they need is the right coach and proper system to become legit contenders in whatever tournament they wish to conquer.

(PM)