UAAP: FEU coach Racela hails Tams' character in must-win game

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2022 05:09 PM

UAAP Media.
FEU coach Olsen Racela gives instructions to the Tamaraws in their UAAP Season 84 second round game against the NU Bulldogs. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- For Far Eastern University (FEU) coach Olsen Racela, their hard-earned win against National University (NU) on Thursday was a display not just of the Tamaraws' talent, but of their character.

Racela had made it clear to his players that the game was a crucial one for them: the Tamaraws entered the game with a 3-6 win-loss record, one game behind the Bulldogs (4-5).

But thanks to their 59-57 triumph, the two squads are now tied at fourth place in the league standings with identical 4-6 slates. The victory greatly boosted FEU's chances of making it to the Final 4 of UAAP Season 84.

"I'm just so proud of the way we played today. We did not give up, especially in the second half. Pwede naman mag-give up easily 'tong mga players at magkanya-kanya na," Racela said after their victory.

"But they stuck to the system, they trusted the coaches, we trusted them," he added.

It was a come-from-behind win for the Tamaraws, who trailed by as much as 14 points and were down by 11 at the break. But they steadily chipped away at the deficit, before a Xyrus Torres three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left put them ahead for good.

Racela cited their final scoring possession as a showcase of their character. Torres bricked a three-pointer earlier in the possession, but LJay Gonzales tracked down the offensive rebound and found the open Torres for another shot. This time, his three-pointer hit nothing but net.

"Si LJay trusted Xyrus with that three-pointer, so it was all about trust for us, and the definition of our character in this game," said Racela.

"The guys showed their character in this game. They never gave up, we trusted each other," the coach also said. "'Yung mga ganitong sitwasyon kasi, pwede namang magkanya-kanya na sila."

Instead, the opposite happened for FEU. Racela noted that they buckled down defensively in the second half, limited their turnovers after giving the ball away 10 times in the first half, and showed no quit even when the Bulldogs regained control of the game.

"Minsan sa UAAP, talagang you just hang on, at hopefully dikit lang, at hopefully in the end, you get that victory," said Racela. "Kami, with that shot of Xyrus, 'yun ang nagpapanalo sa amin. 

"But, again, 'yung characater nila of not giving up and trusting one another is very important for us," he added.

The hope for Racela now is that this win will mark a turning point for his team, as the Tamaraws have so far struggled to string wins together in Season 84. They have won back-to-back games just once, when they beat the University of the East (UE) and Adamson University in succession in the first round.

"This is the first time na nag-tie kami sa top four," Racela said. "So, we're hoping that this will be the turning point of our season, and gamitin lang namin itong panalong ito for us to be more consistent."

"Ang dami naming pinagdaanan eh, pero makakatulong talaga 'yung panalong ito for our confidence," he added.

FEU will play the UE Red Warriors on Saturday.