The Far Eastern University Tamaraws had their chances to end a 10-year title drought last Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, but the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers had other plans, as they knotted the series at 1-1 thanks to Kevin Ferrer’s third quarter splash party.
With everything up for grabs in their upcoming do-or-die game this coming Wednesday, FEU head coach Nash Racela remained positive that his team will bounce back from that tough loss.
“We’re so close to winning it but again we’ve learned our lesson na hindi ka mananalo until the end of the game. The only good thing, again, this is a series and the best part is winning the first game,” Racela told reporters. “If you lose in the second one, you still have another chance. So, we look forward to that third game.”
Unlike their fluid performance in the opening game of this series, it was a rough outing offensively for the Tamaraws. The team only managed to shoot 27.12 percent from the field, and they uncharacteristically fired blanks from the charity stripe with a 20/35 shooting clip.
FEU had 16 turnovers compared to UST’s 7. Those 16 FEU mishaps also translated to 14 turnover points for UST. The Tigers also had the edge at the perimeter, as they had 28 more points compared to the Tamaraws’ 18.
For FEU to have the upper hand in the ensuing game, Racela indicated the team must regroup quickly and play smarter to avoid hoisting ill-advised shots.
“Again, we talked about it after the game. If we shoot [27 percent] from the field then maybe we were taking shots that you don’t really like,” Racela further explained. “We shot [27 percent] I think from the field so if we correct a few of those things maybe we’ll have a better chance on Wednesday.”
Moreover, the Tamaraws missed the contributions of ace guard Mike Tolomia. In 30 minutes of action in second game, Tolomia put up only 7 points, all of which came from free throws. He had a hard time hitting shots as he ended the game with a 0/15 shooting performance to go along with 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 turnovers.
“No, not a concern,” Racela said when asked about his thoughts on Tolomia’s Game Two struggle. “Again, these are veterans and I’m sure they’ll come back stronger next time.”
“He [Tolomia] took shots, eh beterano, and he didn’t make it. Actually isa lang mashoot doon, it’s a different game altogether. Give and take, kailangan mo ng taong titira [for your team].”
For their leading scorers, Mac Belo led FEU with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 assist. RR Pogoy had 12 points and 6 rebounds.
Now, with everything on the line come the final game of the UAAP Season, Racela hopes that FEU will turn their fortunes around and avoid a re-do of last year’s collapse. This season is their best chance to bring back the crown to Morayta.
Can the Tamaraws win their first title since the Arwind Santos era or will the Tigers win their first one since 2006?
“For sure, there’s a little bit of frustration sa players – that’s understandable. But again, the bigger question is, what are you going to do after?” Racela confidently ended. “And again, I’m confident with my team that they could bounce back. We’re all positive because we’re confident that we’ll get it next time.”
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