UAAP: Faida Bakanke poised to be x-factor for FEU Lady Tamaraws

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FEU’s Faida Bakanke will make her UAAP debut in Season 86.–SSL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Far Eastern University parades star foreign student-athlete Faida Bakanke in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament, which opens this weekend at Mall of Asia Arena.

Even before the season started, the Congolese rookie has already made waves by flexing her towering net defense and hard-hitting attacks to lead FEU to two podium finishes with a silver medal in the V-League and a bronze in the Shakey’s Super League.

Setter Tin Ubaldo believes Bakanke will be an x-factor in the Lady Tamaraws’ bid to end a two-year Final Four drought.

“Faida brought a lot of changes to our team, not only her skills but also her mentality and emotions,” said Ubaldo in Filipino. “She’s been teaching us how to handle things, which she learned from Congo. Her vibe inspires the whole team.”

Bakanke, a 6-foot lefty opposite spiker,  and her teammates gained a fruitful experience from their training camp in Thailand and faced PVL teams including PLDT and Cignal.

“We will bring everything we gained from Thailand this coming UAAP. I feel that we’re ready this season,” said Ubaldo.

FEU coach Manolo Refugia, who took charge after Tina Salak’s departure, hopes Bakanke’s addition will help continue their rise from a 6-8 record in fifth place. last season.

“We have to surpass what we did last year. So the challenge for us is to be consistent. We have to execute the things we do in practice regardless of who is our opponent,” Refugia said.

FEU lost four players in Jovelyn Fernandez, who graduated last season, as well as Kiesha Bedonia and Shiela Kiseo, who signed with PLDT, and Akari’s late addition Max Juangco.

But Refugia remained confident of his holdovers Ubaldo, Chenie Tagaod, Mitzi Panangin, and Julianne Monares, who will backstop Bakanke.

“We only had a few adjustments because we’ve been rotating all our players in the preseason. We were able to handle our emotions as a team when they left,” he said.



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FEU opens its campaign against the University of the Philippines on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena.





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