Streaking Tamaraws not done yet after securing Final Four slot
MANILA, Philippines—Far Eastern University coach Olsen Racela looked up the MOA Arena scoreboard before turning to his bench, trying to find answers for his team’s struggles.
Looking lost and playing with hardly any rhythm, the Tamaraws were at the wrong end of a blowout against the then winless National University Bulldogs, who held FEU to just 24 points in the first three periods on their way to a 61-39 victory.
That was a month ago.
These days, Racela’s Tamaraws can’t seem to put a foot wrong, turning the tide after a 2-4 start to punch a ticket to the Final Four for the seventh straight UAAP season – the longest active streak in the league.
“This is a resilient group,” said Racela after the Tamaraws overwhelmed the University of the East Warriors, 82-58, to wrap up their elimination-round campaign.
“We knew they were the underdogs even before the start of the season and the players took that mentality with every game.”
Still, Racela had his doubts after the Tamaraws struggled at the start of the campaign. And those doubts were compounded with the loss to the Bulldogs, who actually dealt NU two defeats this season.
What did not change for the Tamaraws was their attitude in practice.
“Yes, we were struggling, but you can’t see that in practice because they still worked hard,” said Racela. “As a coach, that’s all that you could ask for. Everyone just stayed the course and this (Final Four spot) is their reward.”
FEU’s late season revival included breakout performances from thelikes of Ken Tuffin, Wendell Comboy and Royce Alforque, who had 13 points in just 17 minutes against UE.
Racela said his team still has some unfinished business this season.
“Who would have thought that we will make it to the Final Four?” said Racela. “Not a lot of people believed in us except for those within the team and the FEU community. But we’re not done yet. We’ve achieved
our goal and we move on to the next, which is winning a championship.”