LA Salle and Far Eastern University face off on Wednesday in a much-anticipated debut between two teams considered as top title contenders in the UAAP Season 79 seniors basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The two teams will collide for the first time since a controversial tune-up game was marred by physical play and ended prematurely when FEU coach Nash Racela was hit with an errant passes from La Salle players, which prompted Tamaraws assistant coach Eric Gonzales to approach Green Archers mentor Aldin Ayo.
But the two head coaches are putting the heated tune-up matches behind, keeping their focus instead on the tough task at hand to open their Season 79 campaign.
“Wala namang issue sa akin lahat ‘yan,” said Racela. “We just want to be focused on ourselves kung papaano kami magpe-prepare for the game.”
“Tapos na rin naman ‘yun. They did that with the purpose and sa amin naman, we have dealt with that,” added Ayo.
For this season, La Salle carries the weight of expectations after steamrolling in the preseason with Cameroonian standout Ben Mbala and graduating star Jeron Teng.
On the other hand, the defending champion Tamaraws begin their title retention bid without the core that won them last year’s crown in Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, and Roger Pogoy. And with all the title talk on La Salle, Racela likes that his team is once again overlooked and underrated for Season 79.
“I think FEU has always been like that especially the last couple of years. Personally, I like that. Ayoko na kami ang pinaguusapan,” said Racela.
The Green Archers and the Tamaraws meet at 4 p.m.