COACH Nash Racela felt the huge disparity on fouls prevented Far Eastern University from playing honest defense against De La Salle, leading the reigning champions to hack out a vengeful 94-73 bounce-back win on Saturday in the UAAP Final Four before a jampacked crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Although subdued during the post-game interview, Racela can’t help but rued at how officiating went especially during the second half.
Statistics bore Racela out as the Tamaraws were slapped with a total of 26 fouls compared to just 12 on the Green Archers during the second half.
FEU had more fouls in the entire game with 33 as to 19 of La Salle.
The Archers had a season-high 46 free throw attempts, with 42 of those coming in the second half. They also went 28-of-42 from the foul line in the last 20 minutes, compared to the measly 11-of-14 shooting by the Tamaraws from the stripe.
“When you play a team like La Salle or any stronger team, the only way you can beat them (Green Archers) is by playing good defense. But now, if they (game officials) don’t allow you to play defense, mahihirapan ka talaga,” said an obviously disappointed Racela after the game.
By calling too many fouls on FEU, Racela said his team eventually lost the will to fight.
“Maybe today, they (Green Archers) did play better than us and we didn’t find an antidote on that, but I think the effort (by the Tamaraws) was there, the focus was there, and the players were doing their best,” he said.
“May konting frustration because wala eh, binibigay nila lahat eh,” added Racela, pointing to the numerous foul shots awarded to La Salle that prevented FEU from mounting a second half comeback.
The Tamaraws closed in at 27-34 by halftime, but the Archers outscored them in the final half, 60-46, that proved to be the difference in the win that forced a sudden-death match on Wednesday for one of two berths in the best-of-three Final.
Racela said the Tams will have to simply put the painful loss behind them quickly as they try to bounce back and hopefully, put an end to La Salle’s back-to-back title hopes.
“All they (Green Archers) did was to force a do-or-die, regardless if it’s a one-point loss, a 30-point loss, or 50-point loss. Basta sabi ko lang, let’s forget about this loss, because this is behind us now,” said Racela.
“Ang importante is our next game.”