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Wendell Comboy hopes for a graceful swan song in UAAP

by Niel Victor Masoy, September 23, 2019 9:18pm

Far Eastern University (FEU) guard Wendelino ‘Ino’ Taccaban Comboy III or simply Wendell Comboy started his University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Men’s basketball tournament career by winning a championship with the Tamaraws in 2015 (season 78).

The six-foot Comboy was then a rookie for the champion squad which beat the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers in the Finals.

Now, this season 82, Comboy is one of the graduating players of FEU and he wants no less than a graceful exit in the league - a swan song that would see him and the rest of the Tamaraws win another title, potentially the school's 21st overall. 

“Oo, syempre (gusto ko mag-champion). Lalo na para sa mga graduating tsaka para sa FEU,” said the 22-year-old Comboy in an interview with Courtside Philippines.

Comboy also sees this year as his chance to redeem himself and make his family and the whole FEU community proud.

“Unang-una sa lahat maganda yung exit ko sa FEU diba, tsaka pangalawa, para rin sa family ko, sa teammates ko, sa FEU community,” said Comboy, who made a name for himself by taking over offensively for the Tamaraws whenever the squad needs him to do so.

“(I want) to make them proud na maganda yung makita nila sa akin kasi parang struggling ako diba last season. This is my last chance to prove myself," added Comboy, who has been playing for FEU ( Diliman Baby Tamaraws) since his high school days. 

As they say, winning a championship is never easy in any sport. That could not be any truer for FEU, which is composed of a lot of rookies like Royce Alforque, Travis Mantua, and James Tempra. In a separate interview, FEU head coach Olsen Racela even said that this season is more of a rebuilding year for the Tams.

“Itong year kasi is the rebuilding year for us. Kalahati (sa roster) puro rookies diba,” said Racela, whose team no longer boasts its star players like Arvin Tolentino and Nigerian Prince Orizu, who already graduated.

That situation of the team is the time for a veteran like Comboy to bring his leadership to the table and take his teammates, especially the rookies, under his wing.

“Pinapakita ko yung mga dapat gawin (sa mga bago). Nagsi-set ako ng example tapos syempre lagi akong nandyan para i-remind sila. Tapos sinasabi ko rin sa kanila na huwag mahiyang magtanong. Nandoon pa rin kami (sa phase) na mag-improve pa as a team kasi madaming bago sa team. Hanggang ngayon parang bini-build pa rin namin yung team.”

 

Wendell Comboy
Photo by Courtside Philippines

FEU team co-captain Comboy admitted there’s always pressure to lead a young squad, but things are a little lighter for him and his co-captain Ken Tuffin as well as the other seniors in Hubert Cani, Branrey Bienes, and Kim Bayquin as their rookie teammates are quick to pick things up. 

“Syempre may pressure,” remarked Comboy, who is also a youth leader for their church.

“Hindi yan mawawala pero yung mga bago naman sa amin, yung mga rookie naman sa amin sobrang mabilis sila maka-adapt. Mabilis silang matuto. Hindi naman kami nahihirapang mga veterans. Lalo na sa akin co-cap ako kasi ayun nga sobrang dali nila matuto.” 

And as per the words of Comboy himself, he has the respect of his rookie teammates.

“Siguro yung presence ko pa lang eh sa kanila. Kapag may ginagawa silang mali, pag dumating ako yung presence ko pa lang titigil sila ganun. Parang ‘andyan si Comboy, andyan si Comboy’. Parang dun palang napi-feel na nila yung influence ko sa kanila,” uttered Comboy. 

“Sa akin kahit hindi ako gaano magsalita, nararamdaman nila tsaka nararamdaman ko rin yung mga kilos nila kapag andyan ako. Kaya siguro ganun sila kumilos kapag andyan ako. Ginagawa nila yung tama.”

As for his personal goal - which is also the goal of his fellow graduating players - Comboy looks to pour in a solid performance this season with the hopes that the scouts from the pros would take notice of him. It is his dream to play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), after all.

“Para sa amin na mga graduating, may career kami after nito,” he said. 

“Syempre pangarap namin mag PBA diba. Yung mga ginagawa namin lahat ngayon for PBA. Iniisip namin na laging may mga nagi-scouting sa amin na mga coaches sa PBA ganyan. Binibigay lang namin yung best namin tsaka kung ano lang pinapagawa ni coach Olsen.”

As he and his teammates continue to Be Brave this year, Comboy urges the whole FEU community to keep on supporting the squad.

“Message ko sa FEU community, please keep supporting us for this season. In behalf of my teammates, we promise you na we will always give our best every time we’re on the floor, on the court. Keep charging.”

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