UAAP title a ‘breakthrough’ for FEU basketball, says Racela
MANILA, Philippines – The FEU Tamaraws clinched their first UAAP title in 10 years and 20th ever in league history by defeating the UST Growling Tigers, 67-62, in Game 3 of the 2015 senior’s basketball finals on Wednesday, December 2, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Despite trailing 59-53 with under 4 minutes to go thanks to a 16-0 Growling Tigers run, FEU relied on their key guys like RR Pogoy, Mac Belo, and Mike Tolomia to lead them to the win.
After the game, third-year FEU coach Nash Racela discussed how winning the title is a huge deal for the previously championship-starving university.
“To me, I think it’s a breakthrough sa basketball program nang FEU,” Racela said in the media room, wearing his white championship t-shirt.
“Again, a lot of people have been doubting FEU. A lot of people say a lot of negative things about FEU. Every year, they say that, duon sa mga players namin (about our players), they say that. Even I think last game, they were suggesting something.”
The Tamaraws, who led 30-21 at the halftime of Game 2, squandered their chance at a series sweep as Kevin Ferrer led UST to a come-from-behind win.
“I think it just showed na today it’s not true,” said Racela, who in his 3 years as head coach has led the Tams to a Final Four appearance, finals appearance, and championship.
“Kung ano man iniisip nila sa (whatever they’re thinking about) FEU, it’s not true. I think my players, my team, our team, have been really good ambassadors of FEU, and I’m really proud of them because they represented the school well. They sacrificed.”
Racela has instilled a championship-level system within the Tamaraws predicated on sacrifice and balance. Even if FEU has 3 guys in Belo, Tolomia, and Pogoy who can go first round in the PBA Draft, they still did not have a single player in the league’s Mythical 5.
It didn’t matter as FEU’s ability to go deep into their bench helped them establish an 11-3 record in the eliminations and beat UST in the finals.
“Again, it says a lot about the players,” Racela said about his Tamaraws’s unity.
“Putting your team ahead of yourself is really hard, especially, sabi niyo (as you say), they have a goal of making it to the PBA. We talked about this since last year na if you really want to make it to the PBA, kailangan mag champion kayo (you need to win a championship), so they sacrificed.” – Rappler.com