FAR Eastern University head coach Nash Racela believes the Tamaraws are on the right track, but admitted it has been tough trying to fill the hole left by former MVPs RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo.
Now led by Mike Tolomia, the Tamaraws have been playing fine and even made the quarterfinals of the Filoil preseason tournament, bowing to eventual champion La Salle, the UAAP titlists.
FEU also topped a mini tournament in Cebu, giving the Tamaraws a boost in morale ahead of the 77th UAAP season opening next month.
“We’re happy developing as a team. Admittedly, mahirap talaga punuan ang pagkawala ni RR at Terrence. I mean that’s 35 points already,” Racela said.
“But I’m happy with what I’ve been seeing in the preseason. We’re playing together as a team and nagtutulong-tulong talaga,” said Racela.
FEU beat Southwestern University to win the Mayor Elanito Pena Invitational title in Minglanilla earlier in the week.
The Tamaraws last year won the Mayor Mike Rama Collegiate Invitational Cup, and Racela explained that Cebu is a good place to train before the UAAP because of the players’ talent and size.
“It’s really hard to find tune-up games in Manila kasi. The UAAP teams tend to avoid one another kasi. Here in Cebu, malalaki ang mga kalaban and going up against them will really toughen up my players,” shared Racela.
Aside from using Cebu as a training ground, it has also been a source of new talent for FEU.
Now with the Tamaraws are former University of Cebu standouts Roger Ray Pogoy and Francis Tamsi, ex-Cebu Eastern College center Raymar Jose, former Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu ace Arnie Christian Padilla, ex-University of San Carlos Baby Warrior Joel Lee Yu and former UV Baby Lancers Ron Dennison and Reeve Ugsang.
“It was never really an intention to recruit this many Cebuanos. But alam niyo naman na mahirap talaga ang recruitment sa Manila. So we just try our best to look for talents across the country and nagkataon lang talaga na marami dito sa Cebu,” said Racela.