FAR Eastern University may have lost the UAAP men’s basketball title to National University, but Tamaraws coach Nash Racela was nonetheless happy to see two ‘unpopular teams' pull in record crowds for the Finals.
“I’m happy,” said Racela, who prior to the title series stated that not having either an Ateneo or La Salle team in the championship round was good for the league.
Good thing his words were readily backed by numbers.
“Actually, natakot din ako dahil baka hindi namin ma-support. Pero almost 17,000 came sa Game One, almost 25,000 sa Game Two, and then more than 25,000 sa Game Three. It tells everybody na it’s not only Ateneo and La Salle.”
The decisive Game Three actually set another milestone as a total of 25,138 fans filled the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, easily breaking the venue record of 24,896 which was established during Game Two of the series.
“I’m sorry to my Atenean friends and La Sallian friends, but that’s the reality. Masaya kami for FEU and NU,” said Racela.
NU counterpart Eric Altamirano was also elated with the turnout during the series even as he seconded the statements of Racela shortly after the Bulldogs won their first league title in 60 years.
“It’s good for the league. Napuno ng dalawang teams ‘yung coliseum. Dalawang teams lang. It was an achievement for both schools and for the league,” said Altamirano.
Racela said NU’s title victory should be celebrated by the whole UAAP.
“We wanted to win the championship but NU winning the championship, dapat maging masaya din ang ibang schools,” said the FEU mentor.