COACH Nash Racela says he is open to the idea of Mac Belo and Russell Escoto rejoining the Tamaraws, but he has never spoken about it with either player since a UAAP rule change that would allow them to suit up for Far Eastern University anew.
Racela says they see each other almost every day, and it has been a week since news of the rule amendments came out, but the topic has never been brought up.
“Honestly, we don’t talk about it. We see each other almost everyday but we don’t talk about it,” he said.
“I’m open to the idea as coach because they can really help the team. But again, sabi nga ni sir Mark (Molina, FEU athletic director), we are not forcing them. They served FEU for ilang years and they served the school very well,” said Racela.
Belo and Escoto would be a big boost to the current squad, especially since some of its weaknesses were exposed in a 20-point loss to La Salle in the quarterfinals of the preseason tournament.
The UAAP rule scraps the seven-year window period for athletes starting the year of their graduation to play the maximum of five seasons in the league.
Belo and Escoto have both played four years in the league and will become eligible to play for Season 79 due to the scrapping of the old rule.
“There is one thing that is given. They will really help us if we want to be competitive against La Salle,” Racela said.
“But it’s up to them and it’s up to the players how they will develop in the next few months and step up sa challenge.”
Instead of waiting for Belo and Escoto to show up and wear the FEU uniform one final time, Racela is more focused on developing the Tamaraws holdovers.
“This is a golden opportunity for the other player to step up. Kung kaya nila, eh di they (Belo and Escoto) might not see the need,” said Racela.
“They are the favorites,” Racela said. “They have a very mature team. They have a good import. Wala pa sila (Jason) Perkins and (Julian) Sargent. They will really, really be a tough team in the UAAP,” said Racela.
Racela said the loss should give the Tamaraws a better understanding of the Green Archers as they seek ways to beat La Salle.
That is with or without Belo and Escoto.
“I think ramdam na ramdam namin ang La Salle. Sabi lang namin, the lost was okay as long as you do something the next three months before the tournament so when you face them again, you’ll have a better chance. The purpose today is get the feel of La Salle, get a better understanding of how they play, what kind of team they are, what kind of players they have, siguro find ways na lang later. We’ll see.