FEU's Augus Denila (L) and UE's Dan Alberta (R) battle for the loose ball. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – The Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws gained valuable lessons from watching the defending champions De La Salle University take down the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors last Sunday.
La Salle was down for most of the game and committed a stunning 36 turnovers, yet still escaped with a 60-58 victory after out-executing the Red Warriors down the stretch.
This was something the Tamaraws were able to learn from, which helped them book their own win against UE, 73-63, last Wednesday.
"Ang sabi lang namin is, so long as you don't lose your composure," , said head coach Nash Racela. "Kasi sabi namin before the game na UE was leading almost the whole game (against La Salle), I think for 38 minutes."
"But La Salle, being a championship team, being the champion team that they are, grabe 'yung composure nila noong game na 'yun," he added. "Ang sabi ko, if there is something that we would learn from that game, it's that."
Racela said he and the other members of the FEU coaching staff advised their players to maintain their composure despite the inevitable trapping defense of UE.
"Sabi namin, kahit anong mangyari sa loob, kahit nagkakamali tayo, ang importante is we still make the right decisions in the game and in the end game," he said. "Gawin pa rin natin 'yung dapat nating gawin."
The Tamaraws actually did not start the game well; they committed 11 turnovers in the opening frame and were down by as much as 13 points. They quickly rallied in the second period, however, with forward Mac Belo leading the fight.
"We just did the things that we were doing in practice going into this game," Racela said when asked how they were able to recover from their poor start. "Of course, we had some preparations. We talked about the press of UE."
"Ang sabi lang namin is UE is a pressing team, we acknowledge that, and we actually want that so we could attack the basket. I think the players just executed well today, especially in the second half," he added.
With Wednesday's victory, the Tamaraws are now at 3-1, and hold a share of second place along with the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Racela believes that his team is still a work in progress, however.
"We like that we are getting wins, (but) we don't like the way we are playing," said the coach. "We understand that it's a process. Hopefully, we get better as the season goes along."