FAR Eastern University coach Nash Racela described the Tamaraws’ UAAP Season 78 title victory as a “breakthrough” that he hopes would wash away all the controversies the team had gone through in the past.
The Tamaraws beat University of Santo Tomas in the decider of the best-of-three finals on Wednesday, ending a decade-long title drought that had been marred by suspicion of game-fixing.
“I think it just showed today na it’s not true kung ano man ’yung iniisip sa FEU. It’s not true,” said Racela.
While Racela declined to elaborate, the Tamaraws have been dogged by off-court controversies since their last title success in 2005. In 2008, then-FEU player Mac Baracael survived a shooting incident outside the Morayta campus which many believed was related to game-fixing.
Racela is confident the latest title victory erased the stigma that hounded the FEU program over the years.
“Somebody said it’s redemption. But to me, it’s a breakthrough sa basketball program ng FEU,” said Racela.
“Again a lot of people have been doubting FEU. A lot of people say a lot of negative things about FEU sa mga players namin. Even our last game (Game Two), they were suggesting something. But it showed na it’s not true,” he added.
As part of the reforms instituted by the school over the years, most of the FEU athletes were moved to the school's Diliman high school campus where the the sports center was built, an area which officials believed was more conducive to training than Morayta.
“Mas focused kami dun sa Diliman,” said FEU veteran Roger Pogoy. “Less distractions, kasi malayo.”
The FEU players have also embraced what Racela and the school wants to instill in the team.
“Our team has really been good ambassadors of FEU. And I’m really proud of them because they represented the school well. They sacrificed and they kept their composure. People are noticing it. It says a lot about the character of the players,” said Racela.