THERE’S no let up for Far Eastern University now that it is on top of the UAAP men’s basketball standings and not even in the absence of its head coach for the next two games.
The Tamaraws seized the solo lead on Wednesday following their come-from-behind 74-70 win over defending champion De La Salle that completed their two-game sweep of the Green Archers in their head-to-head match-up this season.
The last thing coach Nash Racela wants from the Tamaraws is to become overconfident following their two-game sweep of the reigning champions, saying the team hasn’t reached its full potential despite coming into the game with a seven-game winning streak.
“La Salle is not yet a hundred percent. This is not the La Salle team na alam natin. You can’t be confident kahit nanalo kami twice (against La Salle),” said Racela, who will missed the Tamaraws’ next two games as he joins Gilas Pilipinas in its FIBA-World Cup campaign in Spain.
FEU currently holds the top spot with an 8-2 (win-loss) card followed closely by three teams in La Salle, National University, and Ateneo, all with similar 7-3 slates.
The Tamaraws are expected to easily clinch a slot in the Final Four as their next two games will be against league minnows University of the Philippines and Adamson.
A win over the two lowly teams would enable FEU to already match its win total from last season.
But Racela said the Tamaraws are not taking second chances.
“We will see kung saan kami babagsak. Nothing is guaranteed yet. We have to focus on the next games,” Racela said.
Now on the cusp of clinching a Final Four berth and bagging one of two twice-to-beat incentives in the playoffs, Racela likes the way his team has been playing as of late.
“Our team is based on trust. I think we have developed ‘yung malaking trust sa isa’t isa na kahit mawala ‘yung isa, mapupunuan ng isa,” said Racela, who immediately flew to Seville, Spain after the game against La Salle.
Carl Bryan Cruz can attest to the level of trust within the team as he believes the FEU assistant coaches are very capable of leading them to victories in the absence of Racela.
Chief deputy Eric Gonzales will take the role as acting coach in the team’s next two games.
“Siyempre big factor sa amin si coach Nash. Pero sanay na kami sa mga coaching staff. Gamay na namin si coach Eric,” said Cruz.