FAR Eastern University is off to an impressive start in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup, winning its first three games.
However, it was a mere scrimmage that gave FEU head coach Nash Racela a reality check.
Last Friday, the Tamaraws grabbed an opportunity to gauge themselves when they accepted an invitation to play the reigning UAAP champion De La Salle in a tune-up game. The two teams are not in the same group in the Filoil tournament and will not face each other until the playoff rounds.
Unlike in the Filoil preseason tournament, the Tamaraws were thoroughly outplayed by a Green Archers side that has retooled its roster for the defense of the UAAP men’s basketball crown in Season 77.
For Racela, La Salle's win, which he described as ‘dominating,’ only showed that the Tamaraws are still very far from being in the level that he wants them to be, contrary to what its 3-0 record in the Filoil tournament suggested.
“It’s a wake-up call,” said Racela. “After (that game), we realized that we are really, really far from the level that we want. La Salle is a really tough team. They dominated us in all aspects.”
FEU has been winning a lot of games in the preseason — the Tamaraws are also competing in the Fr. Martin Cup. Following wins over Mapua, and the Philippine Under-18 team, they won over NCAA runner-up Letran last Saturday, 85-75, with Carl Bryan Cruz hitting five three-pointers.
But Racela was quick to play down the victories.
“That’s the problem with a lot of our tune-up games. We have been winning majority of them but it’s not the level of competition na lalaruin namin sa UAAP. Sometimes, it gives us false confidence na akala namin magaling kami but we really are not. Malayo kami sa gusto namin,” said Racela.
This week, FEU, preparing for its first season since the departure of former league MVPs Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, will have another heavy slate of preseason games, playing three games including a back-to-back matches on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Tamaraws are not concerned with their heavy preseason schedule before plunging into the UAAP.
“We realize na our players will learn not really in practice but in games. We don’t want to pass up on those opportunities. There comes a time naman na magpapahinga,” said Racela.