OLSEN Racela said he'd be surprised if defending champion Ateneo loses a single game in the eliminations of UAAP Season 81.
Well, his Far Eastern University side just did what its coach felt was unthinkable.
Just days after bringing down previously unbeaten Adamson, the Tamaraws dealt the Blue Eagles a 63-60 defeat at the close of the first round of the eliminations on Wednesday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Axel Inigo, Brandrey Bienes, Wendell Comboy and Hubert Cani drained atleast a three- pointer each in the final quarter as the Tamaraws completed a comeback from a 10-point deficit and dealt the Blue Eagles just their second loss this season.
The biggest from those treys came from Cani, ironically a former Blue Eagle. His basket put the Tamaraws ahead, 61-56, going to the final minute.
Adrian Wong had a chance to send the game into overtime but the veteran guard’s contested attempt jumper fell short at the buzzer as the Tamaraws tied the Blue Eagles on 5-2 records.
“Well, ako hindi ko rin alam paano namin ginawa yun. If you noticed, kami yung pinaka grabe yung schedule. Meron pa kaming laro sa Linggo. We played five games in two weeks. Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday," said Racela.
"To add to that, back-to-back yung (games against) Adamson and Ateneo. And we played without our top scorer. Hindi ko alam paano namin ginawa yun,” added Racela after the Tamaraws' third successive win.
Cani was the lone double-digit scorer for the Tamaraws as he finished with 12 but it didn’t mean that he didn’t get help.
Parker and Inigo finished with nine points each while Comboy, Bienes and Prince Orizu all added eight apiece, mostly finding their shots in the blistering second half where they shot 14-27 from the field.
Angelo Kouame led the Blue Eagles with 16 points as they played sans Matt Nieto from the second quarter onwards due to an injured finger.
Thirdy Ravena also left the game on fouls in the endgame.
FEU 63 – Cani 12, Parker 9, Inigo 9, Comboy 8, Orizu 8, Bienes 8, Stockton 5, Escoto 4, Ebona 0, Tuffin 0, Gonzales 0, Bayquin 0
ATENEO 60 – Kouame 16, Verano 8, Ravena 8, Nieto Mi 8, Asistio 6, Mamuyac 6, Mendoza 4, Go 2, Wong 2, Tio 0, Navarro 0, Belangel 0, Nieto Ma 0, Black 0
Quarters: 11-19, 22-32, 39-39, 63-60