Coach Nash Racela of Far Eastern University (FEU) remains hopeful of winning the school’s 20th overall men’s basketball title in the deciding Game 3 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball best-of-three championship series.
Despite losing to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers (56-62) in Game 2 on Saturday, Racela stays optimistic that the Tamaraws would bounce back stronger in Game 3 scheduled on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“I’m confident we can settle this in Wednesday’s do-or-die game. My players know what to do,” Racela told reporters during the post game interview. “The best thing is winning the first game. I’m very hopeful we can still bounce back on Wednesday and win the title.”
In last year’s finals, FEU also won Game 1 but lost the title to National University in the next two games. Racela isn’t bothered though.
Racela also downplayed Mike Tolomia’s 0-of-15 atrocious shooting display, saying: “It is not a concern. “I’m sure they can come back strong next time. You still need a guy who will shoot the ball. He just did not make those shots.”
On the other side, UST’s Kevin Ferrer was waxing hot in the third period hitting 24 of his 29 points in the third quarter to help the Growling Tigers tie the series.
“If Kevin (Ferrer) didn’t gamble, he won’t be able to score those points. I’m just waiting for him to miss but he didn’t,” said Racela. “The biggest question is what do you do after that loss? It’s going to be different ball game on Wednesday. We out rebounded them and we’re going to do it again.”
Racela also said that he would prioritize the recovery of his players and mental toughness.
“If everybody can play 40 minutes, then so be it. We will prioritize the recovery of our players and their mental toughness. We will see,” he added. “We have to play better and make those free throws. We missed a lot of free throws, so there is nobody’s to blame but ourselves.”
FEU shot 15-of-35 in the foul line while UST hit 16-of-27.
FEU also committed a lot of turnovers than UST (16-7).
The Growling Tigers also got 14 points on FEU’s 16 errors.