CAN RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo finally co-exist under the system of new Far Eastern University coach Nash Racela?
National University mentor Eric Altamirano certainly believes so after his Bulldogs were stretched to the limit by the Tamaraws before prevailing in their Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup match-up on Labor Day.
Altamirano noted how FEU is flourishing under Racela’s system as it is now playing as a unit, anchored on the explosive backcourt duo of Garcia and Romeo.
“You can see that RR and Romeo, they can co-exist in the system,” Altamirano said after NU survived FEU, 67-64. “They complement each other.”
“I think they are hard to guard especially because their system fits the personality of the team. They are all a threat,” Altamirano added.
Racela shrugged off Altamirano’s observation, saying it is only the preseason and it's still to early to say how the team will shape up ahead of the coming season.
He, however, expressed satisfaction with the way the Tamaraws have been playing team ball especially in their match against the Bulldogs.
“Siguro ‘yung answer will come in the UAAP season,” Racela said when asked to react to Altamirano’s statements. “We can’t answer right now, pero with what I’m seeing, medyo masaya kami.”
It’s no secret that for years Garcia and Romeo have struggled to play with each other, a predicament Racela recognized even before he was hired to coach the Tamaraws in lieu of Bert Flores.
“Before we came to FEU, may mga comments na they can’t co-exist, hindi puwede magsama, conflict lagi. Maraming storya.”
But Romeo and Garcia played well together while logging heavy minutes in their game against the Bulldogs. Romeo had 25 points while Garcia added 14 and led FEU’s fightback from seven points down in the final two minutes before falling short in the end.
“To tell you honestly, this is the first time that we gave them major minutes. Siguro they played for 20 minutes together,” Racela said.
The FEU coach admitted the team’s new system puts emphasis on passing the ball and finding the open man.
“Nandoon kami sa process of learning. Sharing the basketball is all about trust. That is one thing we are teaching. Like Terrence, he needs to trust his other teammates,” the FEU coach said.
Racela gave Romeo a big thumbs-up on one particular play where the shooting guard, under duress as he drove to the basket, elected to pass off to a wide-open Carl Bryan Cruz for a three-pointer instead of shooting the ball with time running out. Cruz unfortunately, missed the triple.
“May frustration kay Terrence pero pinalakpakan ko siya because he made the right decision,” said Racela.
So far, the young coach said Garcia and Romeo have been responding well to his system in just a few months of playing together.
“We are happy with what we are seeing. Nakikita ko na they are willing to adjust. I want to believe that they can co-exist,” said Racela.
The coach admitted the success of the team in the coming UAAP season lies heavily on Garcia and Romeo. But other players will also have to step up for the Tamaraws to be successful after missing last year’s Final Four.
“I think major part ‘yun because they are the leaders of this team. Of course, it’s a collective leadership but they are the most senior doon sa group,” Racela said.
“FEU has been known to be RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo so it is something that we are working on. We want them to co-exist not only silang dalawa but also dun sa other players at a given time.
“Kailangan mag-co-exist din sila with the other players. And I think, we are on a right track.”