ALASKA cager Dondon Hontiveros was seen making hand signals directed at Talk ’N Text assistant coach Nash Racela during their recent PBA encounter, ribbing him about the Far Eastern University's sputtering second-round campaign in the UAAP.
“Sumenyas si Dondon sa akin na 1-4,” said Racela, referring to the Tamaraws unimpressive second-round record after sweeping the first half of the basketball tournament.
“Alam ko na 'yung pinaparating niya. Kaya sabi ko, hindi (1-4), 8-4 (at that time),” said Racela.
It has been that kind of mindset for Racela and the Tamaraws, who despite the struggles in the second round have clinched a Final Four berth in the UAAP last Saturday with a 92-80 win over Adamson.
Before that, FEU had won only one other game in the second round, a 98-94 double-overtime thriller last August 25 against University of the East.
They have been a far cry from the team that went spotless in the first round, but Racela said they would rather stick to the positives.
“We would rather focus on those things na we are 9-4. We are in the Final Four. We are happy to achieve that,” Racela said.
Racela said he is not concerned about their record in the second round because they still managed to achieve their goal of making it to the Final Four.
“Meron bang first and second round sa UAAP? Ang alam ko, 14 games ang UAAP (eliminations),” Racela said. “Having played 13 games, sa pagkakaalam ko, we are 9-4. That is what I always say.”
The Tamaraws are in a three-way tie for first place with De La Salle and National University on 9-4 records, very much in the running for a twice-to-beat incentive in the playoffs.
Compared to the two other leaders, the Tamaraws have a relatively lighter schedule as they close the eliminations against winless University of the Philippines on Wednesday.
National University has an encounter with Ateneo, while La Salle is set to take on University of Santo Tomas.
Racela is ready for any eventuality.
“Whoever we play in the Final Four, whoever God brings to our table, we will be ready. We will take that,” Racela said.