FAR Eastern University coach Nash Racela took the blame for the team’s defeat against University of the East Sunday after he left the Tamaraws in the middle of its UAAP men’s basketball campaign to join Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup.
Racela believed the 94-71 setback against the Warriors that ended the Tamaraws’ six-game winning run had something to do with his absence for the past 10 days as he attended the games of the national team in Spain in his capacity as one coach Chot Reyes’ deputies.
“I told the players na charge the loss to me. It’s the result of leaving them for 10 days. I wasn’t able to prepare the team well in this game,” Racela said.
The FEU coach only arrived on Saturday and was not able to join the team’s practices on the eve of the game against UE, which is fighting for dear life as a defeat would eliminate the Warriors from the Final Four chase.
“Going into the game, I was at a loss kung ano ang gagawin namin. Dumating ako kahapon (Saturday) and I wasn’t able to practice with the team,” Racela said.
The loss sent FEU to a tie for first place with Ateneo with similar 10-3 records.
The Tamaraws and Blue Eagles face each other on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the winner taking the top spot and the loser going as low as third in the Final Four placing.
Racela said FEU will now try to refocus to its usual game of team basketball before its showdown with Ateneo.
“Sabi ko sa kanila before I left, we were playing as a team. I don’t know what happened in between. Wala ‘yung teamwork natin. Between now and Saturday, it’s time to refocus and dapat ibalik natin ‘yung ginagawa natin dito,” said Racela.
Coming into the game against FEU, UE was embroiled in a controversy involving star player Roi Sumang, who was benched by head coach Derrick Pumaren for missing practice prior to the Red Warriors’ game against National University two weeks ago.
But Racela said he expected UE to come out firing as the Warriors try to stay in contention for a semifinals as reflected in a merciless 25-6 run they posted to clinch the victory.
“We expect them to play well after ‘yung mga issues nila. I think it mattered in the end game kasi doon kami nagsimulang bumitaw,” Racela said.
As they look ahead to the all-important game against Ateneo, Racela hopes the loss against the Warriors will be a lesson to the entire team.
“If there is any game that we can use, it’s the game against UE. Even if we won (against UE), wala ring guarantee sa twice-to-beat. I think the more important game is the game against Ateneo,” Racela said.