FAR EASTERN University coach Nash Racela said the crucial fouls slapped on Gryann Mendoza and Mike Tolomia turned the tide against the Tamaraws, whose season ended with a 68-71 semifinal defeat to De La Salle on Wednesday at MOA Arena.
Racela said the technical foul called on Mendoza late in the third quarter for complaining to the referees changed the complexion of the game, with Jeron Teng hitting free throws that closed the gap for La Salle entering the fourth.
Making matters worse for Racela’s wards was an unsportsmanlike foul called on Tolomia during a rebound play in the final two minutes of the game at the MOA Arena.
Racela said that he openly told the referees that their calls were crucial to FEU’s cause.
“Could be the turning point,” said Racela, when asked about the technical foul on Mendoza. “The refs could have not called the technical. The refs could have not called the unsportsmanlike foul. But they did.
“That was the game-changer. That’s what I told the refs. It really did,” Racela said.
Racela, however, expressed satisfaction with how the Tamaraws fought against their nemesis Archers as they took control in the first three quarters before fading in the end.
“All the games, we got La Salle’s number finally. I think they were struggling against our defense almost the whole time. There were times that the players executed poorly, there were lapses. But all in all, we were happy with the way we performed,” said Racela.
“It is really hard to play those schools. If you are not Ateneo or not La Salle, it’s really hard to win. You need to bring your A-game. That’s a given,” said Racela, an Ateneo and La Salle alumnus in high school and college, respectively.