A win away from securing the Season 77 UAAP Men’s basketball title, the FEU Tamaraws crumbled in the last two games of the finale and lost to the now-defending champions, NU Bulldogs. With the Bulldogs losing key veterans due to graduation, FEU is tagged to have one of the highest chances to snag this year’s crown.
With key returnees in last year mythical five select Mark Belo and emerging guard Mike Tolomia, the Tamaraws are expected to make strides after an extended break due to the calendar shift of the UAAP. Coach Nash is contented with the way they are viewed as of now but he has continued to tell his boys not to get this treatment affect the way they play.
“It’s good that people consider us as one of the favorites but samin kasi we always tell the players not to be affected by what they hear or what other people say about us. Ang importante is how well we prepare for the games. We just have to focus on that. Don’t let others affect the performance in our game. “
They finished last year’s elimination with a 10-4 record and ended the phase with a twice-to-beat advantage entering final four action. In the next round, they eliminated the then defending champions, DLSU Green Archers, via a thrilling win with a Belo triple at the buzzer.
FEU landed second scoring-wise(74.4ppg) behind Ateneo(75.9). In addition, they were also the top assisting team with nearly 16 a game. The Belo-Tolomia duo averaged nearly 34 points a game combined to pace the team.
When asked about the team’s main goal for this season, Coach Nash was precise on telling, “We expect a better performance this year.”
In this new season, they lost Anthony Hargrove and Carl Bryan Cruz but same as like the other UAAP teams, they loaded their roster with new faces and will parade seven incoming rookies. Racela expects to get help from this reloaded crew as he admits that his rotation last year was one factor for the bridesmaid finish.
“Depth sa bench namin so medyo maikli yung rotation namin last year and that’s something we would like to address on this season. We’re hoping we could use mga 10-12 players a game.”
As he has emphasized on continuous improvement, he also knows that the pool of talent in the UAAP has increased and embraces the added challenge against other teams who are also upgrading their respective lineups.
He mentioned, “This is what’s nice about the UAAP this year, teams are really getting stronger. Adamson and UP which makes them hard to play. Other teams have been emphasizing on having a lot of rookies but they don’t really talk about their core veterans so mahirap kalaban yung mga yan.”
In an exciting way to open up their season, they would be matched up in an early heavyweight joust against the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 4pm on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena. Looking ahead, Racela pointed out the team’s readiness for the season.
“I think the biggest challenge is how we will be able to execute in the game. Kasi we’re confident enough that we prepared well enough this season kaya lang practices are very much different from the games so yun lang ang challenge for us, kung paano namin mata-translate yung practice namin papunta sa game,” he closed out.
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