UAAP: Racela endures 9-hour flight to make it to FEU's game

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 06 2019 10:23 PM

UAAP: Racela endures 9-hour flight to make it to FEU's game 1
FEU head coach Olsen Racela. UAAP

MANILA - A nine-hour flight from Dubai to Manila could not keep Olsen Racela from calling the shots for Far Eastern University in their game against University of the Philippines on Sunday afternoon.

Racela was with Barangay Ginebra when they played the NLEX Road Warriors in a PBA Governors' Cup game at the Coca Cola Arena in Dubai -- a contest that they lost, 113-111, in overtime.

The coach rushed to the airport and left Dubai before midnight -- arriving at Manila sometime around noon. That gave him more than enough time to make it to the Mall of Asia Arena, where the Tamaraws were scheduled to play the Fighting Maroons at 4:00 p.m.

"I'd like to thank my mom from picking me up from the airport," said Racela after the game, which FEU won 82-79 in overtime.

"Seriously, I'd like to thank the coaching staff. They prepared this team very well," he added. "I was not there the last two practices, but nandyan naman ang coaching staff."

That preparation was clear for three and a half quarters, when the Tamaraws were in control. They led by as much as 19 points, and were still up by 16, 69-53, with 5:58 to go.

"I think it shows that it's a collective effort, not just from the head coach but all the way to the coaching staff and the utility staff," Racela said of the team's performance.

The Tamaraws did not make it easy for themselves, however, as they surrendered a 16-0 run to UP to end the fourth quarter. The Maroons forced overtime after Javi Gomez de Liano scored in transition with 24 seconds left to force a 69-all deadlock.

But veterans Ino Comboy and Kenneth Tuffin came up big in the extra period, with Tuffin nailing the go-ahead three-pointer with 57 seconds left before Comboy drilled the dagger jump shot with 18.3 ticks to go.

"This team embodies the 'Be Brave' spirit ng FEU," Racela said of his squad. "Lumalaban tayo hanggang sa dulo. Kahit tinambakan tayo, lumalaban pa rin."

"That's the only thing you could ask from the players eh. They might not be as talented as the other teams, as experienced. Pero 'yun nga -- lumalaban kami," he added. "I think that's what gives us a chance in the end game."

Their win put FEU in a logjam for third place, along with University of Santo Tomas and La Salle, as all three teams now have 4-4 win-loss records. 

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