Eagles and Tamaraws’ half of final four up
Far Eastern University coach Olsen Racela talked on Wednesday about how the Tamaraws have battled through adversity the whole season.
On Sunday, their uphill climb continues as they take on defending champion Ateneo in the other half of the UAAP Final Four, needing no less than a win to stay alive at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Tip-off is at 3:30 p.m. with an Ateneo win sending the Eagles back to the best-of-three Finals against the winner of the Adamson-UP series.
The Maroons, incidentally, forged a decider in their side of the semifinals after a 73-71 win on Saturday.
“Ateneo is a very tough team,” Racela said of his Alma Mater. “It always brings back [memories of] last year’s Final Four.”
This match-up will mark the fourth straight year that the Tams and Eagles are meeting in the semifinals.
But that familiarity, Racela believes, affords his squad no advantage.
“Last year, they didn’t have (Angelo) Kouame,” he said. “That’s the source of our headache.”
The Blue Eagles, who finished the elimination round with a 12-2 record, have found a new weapon in Kouame.
The Ivorian center, who finished second to UP’s Bright Akhuetie in the Most Valuable Player race, is the biggest reason why the Eagles have been such a force all season.
Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin, for his part, stressed that this year’s cast of Eagles should stand on its own merits, saying that the “defending champion” tag is just that: a tag.
“The 2018 team has to stand on its own. We’re not going to win or lose because of what happened in 2017.” —DENISON REY A. DALUPANG