Olsen Racela commends Tamaraws despite Final 4 exit
MANILA, Philippines—The door to the title has closed for Far Eastern University in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament but had coach Olsen Racela knows his team’s run wasn’t all for naught.
University of Santo Tomas defeated the Tamaraws, 81-71, in the stepladder game en route to the semifinals, sending FEU to watch the remainder of the Final Four from the bleachers.
Racela thanked his seniors Wendell Comboy, Kim Bayquin, Hubert Cani, and Barkley Eboña for the leadership they’ve provided during the tournament that saw FEU finish with an 8-6 record for the third seed in the tournament.
“I told them in the dugout that this game will not define this season. We achieved something big this year and we reached the Final Four with these guys leading us,” said Racela Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I’m just proud of these four and the 12 players who grew with us. It was all about growth for us this year especially for our rookies so this is big for us.”
The Tamaraws had a rough start to the season winning three of their first seven games but turned things around in the second round going 5-2 and earning their spot in the knockout stage.
Despite carrying a three-game winning streak, including a second round win over UST, the Tamaraws fell prey to the Growling Tigers who built a massive foundation in the first half with a 54-28 lead.
FEU managed to cut the lead down to five, 70-65, midway through the fourth but the Growling Tigers retaliated with a quick 8-0 run taking a 78-65 lead after Renzo Subido’s three with 1:28 left.
Eboña, however, missed out on the furious fourth-quarter rally as he got ejected with barely two minutes left in the second quarter after absorbing a second unsportsmanlike foul with a hit on Soulemane Chabi Yo.
Nevertheless, Racela showed his pride for his graduating players whom he believes should have brighter futures outside of college.
“I don’t want to take away what these players did this season,” said Racela. “The ending wasn’t that great but I’m just proud of how we played this season.”
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