By Jerome LagunzadHost Far Eastern University came up short in its bid to get back at defending champion De La Salle on Wednesday night, but Tamaraws coach Olsen Racela still saw positive signs that could put them in good stead moving forward.
“I like the effort of the guys. It came down to the last play and that’s how it should be every time,” he said, putting things in perspective after the Tamaraws dropped a 75-73 decision at the start of the second round in UAAP Season 80 basketball.
“We didn’t like the result but the effort was there. They followed the game plan. We just have to use this game as a springboard for the next games.”
Despite missing the services of center Arvin Tolentino due to a one-game suspension, the Tams recovered from a sluggish start and went toe-to-toe with the loaded Green Archers side until the closing seconds.
FEU had a chance to force an extra five-minute period – or even steal victory – with 2.2 seconds to play, but veteran Ron Dennison’s inbound pass to a cutting Cameroonian Prince Orizu was intercepted by La Salle guard Andrei Caracut.
“It was my fault,” said Racela, taking the blame for the botched play. “Hindi ko diniin kay Prince. Of course he was an option pero di ko siya ni-remind coming out of the timeout that he was an option kaya nakita nyo hindi siya ready sa pasa.”
Still, Racela admitted “it’s a learning experience for everyone,” hoping his charges will put the bitter lesson to good use as FEU tries to stop a two-game losing skid against free-falling University of Santo Tomas on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan City. It could have been a different ballgame, according to Racela, if the 6-foot-5 Tolentino were there for the Tamaraws.
“Arvin is our second-leading scorer and his presence underneath, his rebounding and in crucial moments we could’ve used him to get those rebounds,” he said of the former UAAP Rookie of the Year awardee who averaged 11.0 points and 5.1 rebounds in the first round of play.