ANTIPOLO -- From being the only team that lowly National University swept this UAAP Season 82, Far Eastern University has defied the odds and clinched a spot to the Final Four.
And coach Olsen Racela had the perfect response to the Tamaraws' mind-boggling performance this year.
"Well," he sighed. "Who would have thought, di ba?"
Certainly, not many, especially after FEU routed University of the East, 82-58, and secure its spot in the semifinals on Sunday.
But Racela himself acknowledged that the loss against the Bulldogs seemingly lit a fire under his Tamaraws.
"I guess, kasi simula noon, maganda na ang nilaro namin offensively. But defensively, I always say, we’d like to think of our team as a defensive team first," he said.
"Yung offense namin struggled that game, but it’s up to the coaches to make adjustments and fortunately, we had a good support from my assistant coaches. We made the right adjustments, and then the players really responded. That’s why we’ve made it this far."
Since losing to NU in overtime, 85-79, back in October 9, FEU has gone on to win four of its last five games.
Although those losses sting, the players believe that it's the wake-up call the Tamaraws needed to make this late push to the playoffs.
"Yes, we could've been second-seed, but there's beauty in that," said graduating forward Ken Tuffin. "We needed to go through that to become the team we are now. If it wasn’t for those losses, who knows,we might not be here right now. We might have been complacent."
Senior Wendell Comboy agreed, with FEU refusing to bow out early in his final year in Morayta.
"Last year ko na rin at ayaw ko na ma-out kami, na ma-eliminate kami sa eliminations pa lang," he said. "Yung mga sleepless nights namin, sobrang worth it."
And for Tuffin, that just made the Tamaraws' Final Four journey all the more worth it.
"We took the long road, but we're here now," he said.