MANILA, Philippines – Far Eastern University (FEU) head coach Nash Racela rued two crucial calls that he believes proved to be “game-changers” in their Final Four loss to De La Salle last Wednesday.
Veteran guard Gryann Mendoza, who was playing his last year for the Tamaraws, fouled out after getting called for a personal foul and then a technical late in the third quarter. La Salle’s Jeron Teng made three of four free throws, which allowed the Archers to enter the fourth quarter down 52-56.
In the final period, with FEU down by two, 66-68, with 1:56 to go, guard Mike Tolomia was called for an unsportsmanlike foul. Teng made one of two free throws to put La Salle ahead by three points.
“(Mendoza’s fouling out) could be a turning point,” Racela said after the game. “The referees could have not given the technical, the referees could have not called the unsportsmanlike, but they did.”
“It’s really a game-changer, that’s what I told the referee, it’s a game-changer,” he added.
La Salle went on to win the game, 71-68, and FEU’s season, which seemed so promising after the first round, ended in disappointment.
What made the loss more painful is that FEU was in control for long stretches of the game. They were up by 11 in the third period and had a seven-point lead early in the final quarter.
“Yeah, we controlled the game. We got La Salle’s number, finally. I think they were struggling against our defense almost the whole game. Players executed properly. Maybe we had a number of lapses, but all in all, we were happy with how we performed today,” said Racela.
“All in all, we played better today compared to the other day,” added the coach, referring to their 69-74 loss to DLSU in their playoff for the second spot. “We forced them to miss shots. Offensively, we made the extra pass na for the whole season is at question.”
Despite their fine performance going down the drain, Racela graciously accepted the loss.
“Ganoon talaga. That’s the story of basketball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he said.