FAR Eastern University men’s basketball coach Nash Racela admits the Tamaraws are a lot weaker personnel-wise this season, but are headed in the right direction shortly after a team-building session and a successful stint in a pocket tournament in Cebu.
“We’re a step closer to where we want to be, basketball-wise,” said Racela moments after his team completed a three-game sweep of the Mayor Mike Rama Collegiate Invitational Cup with an 85-79 win over Mapua.
The Tams missed out on the UAAP Final Four last season, prompting the younger brother of Petron head coach Olsen Racela to revamp the team and get a team that traditionally always had great individual players to embrace the team concept.
The emphasis, Racela said, is on `building relationships’ between teammates.
“Historically, we’ve always been good individually, but sometimes at the risk of team chemistry. That’s why we’re trying to teach them to play the right way and imbibe in them that they can’t just rely on yourself,” said Racela.
The FEU coach added his working relationship with the team’s two star guards in one-time league MVP RR Garcia and former Rookie of the Year Terrence Romeo is a work in progress, but said he made sure to show both players that there would be no special treatment in the team.
FEU turned back University of the Visayas, 90-83, and then escaped past Southwestern University, 79-78 in back-to-back victories that obviously impressed Racela.
However, he got a bit disappointed with the Tamaraws’ win over the Cardinals that saw them wast away a double-digit lead and scramble in the endgame to survive.
“I liked how the team played in its first two games. But the third one, even though we won, was a failure,” he said. “They have to play hard on every play.”