Different season, same result for the FEU Tamaraws to open the season.
During the opening weekend of the 77th season of the UAAP, the Far Eastern University stunned the reigning champions from the past season, the De La Salle Green Archers, 82-77. The Tamaraws then faced Kevin Ferrer and the UST Growling Tigers in their next game day. The España-based squad narrowly edged their neighbors 69-67.
This season, the Tamaraws walloped a deep Ateneo team in dominating fashion, 88-64, to open their Season 78 campaign. Their next assigment? The Growling Tigers. The result? A 72-71 win in favor of the Growling Tigers.
FEU head coach Nash Racela found it ironic that Bong Dela Cruz have had their number for two straight years. “Actually right after the game against Ateneo [last Sunday], ang sabi namin we go need to go back last year during opening weekend. We beat La Salle big time and then right at the next game we lost to UST. Exactly, the same,” he recalled.
However, the third year coach admitted that something just seemed to not go right for the team during their practices prior to the game. “Actually, as a coach I was surprised at how we started. Una pa lang ang sama na ng nilaro namin.” He admitted that the loss was due to the strategy he implemented during practice, “it was my fault as a coach, that’s how we practiced the past few days. It’s not really nice.”
“Not to take away anything from UST. They had a good game plan that forced us to go where we are not really comfortable. Exactly the same thing that happened to us last year.” This strategy was what UST head coach Bong Dela Cruz said during the post-game presser. “We made them do things they were not comfortable with. During their first game, their opponent did not play defense. We played defense for 40 minutes,” the UST mentor said.
The coach sees this as a wake-up call to the early pre-season favorites to win the championship. “It’s a realization that we can’t win games where we cannot defend and turn the ball over,” he said. “As a team we committed 21 turnovers. We shot well but we turned the ball over that led to easy points. As a team we failed to make stops.” The Tamaraws shot at a high shooting clip in the game in shooting 47.46% in the game but the Tigers were able to score 26 turnover points that led to FEU’s loss.
Coach Nash Racela is also calling for the seniors to be more vocal especially with a team that is filled with young upstarts. “To lead. We have a big group of first timers. Sinusubukan naman nila,” he disclosed.
The FEU Tamaraws will have a tougher task ahead of them as they face the DLSU Green Archers on Sunday at 4:00pm. Both teams are hungry to get one over the other even in the early stages of the tournament.