EVEN after an upset over reigning champion La Salle, Far Eastern University coach Nash Racela is still convinced the Green Archers remain the team to beat in Season 77 of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
In fact, Racela believes the Archers may have pulled some punches in a season debut that saw them drop an 82-77 loss to the Tamaraws during Saturday’s opener at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The FEU coach even thought the Archers’ loss may be a tactical move by coach Juno Sauler.
“I think that’s not the La Salle team. Tingin ko, medyo hinatak ni Coach Juno ng konti. Kasi sobrang hype sa kanila. Sometimes, as a coach, that’s a ploy. Para kapag natalo sila, it dies down,” said Racela, the same person who last year declared La Salle will be the ‘next Ateneo’ in the UAAP, referring to the Blue Eagles’ string of five championships under then-head coach Norman Black.
“Good thing kami ang kalaban nila,” said Racela.
In the Tamaraws first game in the league without the dynamic duo of Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, Mike Tolomia showed the way by scoring 23 points in the stunning victory.
But Racela tried to play down FEU’s chances following the win over La Salle by pointing out that man-for-man, the Archers remain a strong and solid team this season.
“We were overpowered, we were undermanned. I think lahat ng bigs nila clearly dominated us. I was just happy with our team defense.
“They are still the team to beat. They are still the strongest team. Nagkataon lang na they were not hitting their shots. And yet, it was a very close game. It shows how powerful they are. We are thankful na nakalusot kami. It was actually a surprise sa akin,” said Racela.