The thing is, Ron Dennison is just part of the whole that almost brought down the Ateneo Blue Eagles in Season 80
By Klyde Manansala | Photo by Tristan Tamayo
Even with the storied college career of Ron Dennison ending last season, there’s still a lot to look forward to in the Far Eastern University (FEU) camp.
If there’s one other team aside from the Ateneo Blue Eagles that has the clearest shot at another title this year, it’s the Tamaraws who just came up one possession short from making it back to the finals after being outlasted by eventual champions Ateneo in Season 80.
Undoubtedly, FEU has lost one of their most important players in Dennison. The Cebuano guard possessed astonishing weapons in his arsenal—offensive prowess, boundless energy, astounding defense, and most of all, an uncanny leadership skill. The question is: Can FEU survive without Dennison around? Well, with the intact lineup coach Olsen Racela has, it’s not a far-fetched idea for FEU to reign again this season.
“Ganado na kami dito sa darating na season, lahat po ng kailangan namin gawin para maghanda ay nagawa na namin,” Racela said.
Somebody has got to step up for the massive role left by Dennison, but that’s not going to be a problem for FEU considering they still have remarkable names in their roster. Experience-wise, they’ve certainly got it. For Racela, the point guard is their firestarter—everything starts falling into place if you have a wise floor general.
“It’s all about execution, like I said, ginawa po namin lahat ng kailangan gawin para makapag-handa, so lahat ay excited na para sa darating na season,” Racela said.
With that being said, Jasper Parker could be the guy who can fill in the void left by their former captain. The spitfire point guard had a great run last year, perhaps he’s the closest comparison to Dennison. More than his swift drives to the basket, Parker loves to involve his teammates in every possession, serving as the spark for FEU’s dribble-drive offense. Parker also has great lateral defense.
Aside from Parker, FEU also finds key holdovers in former Blue Eagles Hubert Cani and Arvin Tolentino, both of whom will play their second season as Tamaraws. Cani has had pretty good pre-tournament games after showing off his clutch plays as he became FEU’s go-to-guy during the twilight zone. Cani and Tolentino will serve as FEU’s top leaders—they will have to produce numbers, the offense will revolve around them, they will have to create wider spaces for their guards to operate from inside—basically, they need to make their veteran presence felt every time.
With the intact roster FEU has, losing Dennison wouldn’t seem like a problem for them. They will still be fielding almost the same guys from their last year’s gallant stand against tough teams. And with more familiarity and off-season preparation, we might see the green and gold colors make its way back to the biggest stage of the tournament.