Riding a six-game winning streak and still with a lot of ground to cover as far as its title defense is concerned, Far Eastern University has a lot to talk about inside its locker room.
The only kind of talk that the Tamaraws won’t get themselves drawn into is the one that concerns their head coach, Nash Racela, who is reportedly headed to the PBA to coach powerhouse TNT KaTropa next season.
FEU has down played the development, first broken by the Inquirer on the revelation of unimpeachable sources, with athletic director Mark Molina saying it is a discussion reserved for the end of the season.
The latest to downplay the still unofficial report?
The soft-spoken mentor had nothing to say about the development because no official statement or announcement had yet come from TNT management. Racela’s only concern is to make sure the report doesn’t stir up a sense of dreadful speculation inside his locker room.
“We can’t really allow distractions to affect you,” said Racela.
He’s right. The Tamaraws, after all, are defending champions of a field where a different team has been mowing down school after school to reach the summit that FEU wants to conquer.
And while unofficial, the report is enough to i settle a locker room that is reeling at the avalanche that La Salle has triggered. After all, if Racela, indeed, is TNT’s new coach, a conflict could ensue since the next PBA and the UAAP don’t allow their coaches to pull off double duty.
So Racela has the unenviable task of controlling the locker room narrative.
“We just try to shorten our vision and focus on the task at hand,” said Racela, who had earlier allayed fears that he would transfer, posting “still charging,” on his Twitter account.
The task at hand is to inch as close to La Salle as possible.
And how well the Tamaraws cope with the uncertainty over their coach’s future will be known starting today when they tangle with the dangerous University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Although they’ve racked up wins in succession, the Tamaraws haven’t been playing solid consistently on both ends.
A 59-48 win over the University of Santo Tomas last Oct. 12 that jacked up their record to 7-2, did little to quash Racela’s concerns over his squad’s play.
“If I remember it correctly, the whole game, I kept on reminding them to play hard and play correctly,” said Racela. “I just hope I get the response that I want from them in the next game.”
The task doesn’t get easier for the Tamaraws since they’ll be facing a UP squad that seems to be growing in confidence even after losing to leader De La Salle in its last outing.
Normally a tailender in previous seasons, the Maroons, with a 3-7 card, find themselves in unfamiliar territory now contending for a Final Four berth along with Ateneo (5-4), Adamson (4-5), and National