FAR Eastern University coach Nash Racela sounded cryptic after a heartbreaking loss to Ateneo saw the Tamaraws blowing away a chance to secure the top seeding in the UAAP Final Four.
Racela was left to rue missed free throws and a 'lack of willingness' after the Tamaraws let a 19-point lead in the fourth canto slip away as the Blue Eagles forced overtime on the way to a 68-64 win on Saturday.
Racela said his team couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities, ruing two missed free throws by Mike Tolomia with the game tied at 59 with 2.8 seconds left in regulation.
“We missed 19 free throws, 11 in the fourth. We can’t really complain because we are getting fouled. We came up with a good game plan. We got fouled but we weren’t making our free throws. Mahirap manalo kapag ganun,” said Racela.
“We missed our free throws and we allowed them to come back. I think we veered away from our game plan and all of a sudden, Ateneo was making basket after basket,” he added.
FEU led 45-26 at the end of the third quarter and was still up 55-36 with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, only to lose the all-important game.
Racela said the Tamaraws still lack the willingness to win ballgames.
“Hindi namin tinapos,” Racela said. “The last message that I had was, ‘Be ready for success. You have to want it and get it.’ Doon kami nagkulang. I told them, ‘I want to be in the finals. I hope they share ‘yung kagustuhan ko.'”
Instead of being the top seed in the Final Four, the Tamaraws dropped to a playoff for the No. 2 spot. Racela, however, remains optimistic about their chances.
“Good thing about our situation, even after the bad loss, we are still in a good position to make it to the finals unlike last year when we lost to La Salle, tapos na kami,” said Racela.