Seeing defending champion Far Eastern U split its first 2 matches in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney is enough for coach Nash Racela to be encouraged.
After all, the Tamaraws are still learning how to start a new life without their 6 vital cogs, led by their prized “Big 3” of Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia and Roger Pogoy, who have all graduated.
The latest proof of how far FEU has improve will be further known on Wednesday when the Tamaraws take on the young Blue Eagles of Ateneo at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Game time is at 2 p.m., with FEU eager to come up with a fitting follow-up to its 75-65 victory over promising Adamson last Sunday, enabling it to bounce back from a 5-point setback dealt by powerhouse La Salle in its initial assignment.
“It’s already a given na mahirap ang pagdaraanan namin this year. But it’s a good feeling that we’re able to get our first win,” said Racela. “It would be hard to start the season 0-2. Okay na rin at masaya kami.”
While he’s still looking for a go-to-guy among the youthful Tamaraws, Racela is pleased to his wards thrive on their well-balanced attack, with eight of them averaging at least 6.0 markers per game.
FEU, however, will be up against an Ateneo side raring to recover from a 60-70 loss to National U over the weekend.
After sparkling in the Blue Eagles’ 4-point win over host UST in the opener, sophomore guard Aaron Black and comebacking wingman Thirdy Ravena groped for form against the Bulldogs, combining for just 6 points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field.
The Blue Eagles could expect the same defensive tenacity from the Tamaraws, who’ll be led by skipper Raymar Jose, veterans Richadr Escoto, Prince Orizu, Monbert Arong and former Adamson guard Axel Iñigo.
“We’ll continue to work and improve our game and hopefully that would be enough to future competitions,” said Racela. — By Jerome Lagunzad