Coming off a crushing 84-87 loss to the NU Bulldogs last Wednesday that saw the Far Eastern University Tamaraws blow not just one, but two 15-point leads, many counted the Olsen Racela-mentored squad out when they took on the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, Saturday afternoon. A loss would have resulted in a sudden death showdown with the UP Fighting Maroons, a team that had just beaten them 56-59 last October 29.
Needing to get his team away from the pressure brought about by UP’s win just minutes ago, Racela literally went to the drawing board to regroup his Tamaraws.
“Sinabi ko sa kanila to, ‘ano sinabi ko sa inyo? Ano nakalagay sa board?'” Racela asked Richard Escoto.
“Tapos yung dot lang yung focus namin meaning papabayaan namin lahat nung distraction. Basta gawin lang namin yung tama,” Escoto responded.
Focus was what the Tamaraws did against the highly-favored Soaring Falcons. FEU dominated the boards while displaying great ball movement, assisting 55 percent of their makes. The Tamaraws clinched the last playoff spot with a 71-54 win.
“Yung nangyari sa UP then NU, fourth kami kumbaga nag-collapse,” recalled Arvin Tolentino, who finished with a team-high 14 points. “Pero this game mas tumaas pa energy namin nung fourth.”
But Prince Orizu summarized their outing best.
“For me, I just like to say this is one of the best games we played together because I felt like we controlled ourselves in the fourth quarter — that’s when we give up sometimes,” said Orizu, who finished 10 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks.
“We played like brothers.”
Seeing this, Racela was immensely proud of his team.
“Well of course, natutuwa kami but I have to hand it to the players. They never gave up, they never wavered dun sa kanilang kagustuhan mag Final Four,” said one of the greatest floor generals in the Philippines.
“Talagang buong buo yung puso na makapasok sa Final Four.”