(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – La Salle vs UST
4 p.m. – NU vs Ateneo
The Far Eastern University Tamaraws were able to avoid a stunning loss against a lowly-yet-dangerous opponent yesterday.
Their coach Nash Racela, however, couldn’t avoid questions surrounding his future.
Racela and the Tamaraws rallied from a 20-point first quarter deficit to turn back the University of the Philippines Maroons, 63-60, for their seventh straight win in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
FEU fell behind 28-8 at the end of the first, but several players led by veteran Raymar Jose inched their way back to take the lead before foiling a last-ditch effort by UP to force the game to an extension, moving a victory shy of claiming the second Final Four berth.
Jose finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Jojo Trinidad, Monbert Arong, Axel Iñigo, Prince Orizu, Barkley Ebona, Kenneth Tuffin and Wendell Comboy also did their parts to secure FEU’s eighth win in 10 games.
“I told the guys sa dugout that ‘You want to do it the hard way, then let’s do it the hard way because you put yourselves in a really hard position after the first quarter.’ Good thing we were still able to get that win,” said Racela.
Following his postgame thoughts at the press room, Racela lightly tried to veer away from the media’s queries over reports of his appointment as new coach of TNT in time for the next PBA season which starts in a month.
“If it comes, it comes,” said Racela, who has been FEU mentor since 2013, steering the Tams to last season’s championship.
FEU athletic director Mark Molina did most of the talking regarding the coaching situation during the presser, assuring that the school will make sure that Racela finishes the UAAP campaign.
“Coach Nash and I have been constantly in touch for the last two or three weeks,” said Molina. “The only concern sa FEU is to make sure that Nash will finish the season. Wala namang doubt on our end because we know Nash will not leave the team in the middle of the season.”
Jett Manuel had 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals, Paul Desiderio scored 13 points while backup Jerson Prado had 10 points and seven rebounds but UP dropped to 3-8.
FEU 63 – Jose 20, Trinidad 9, Arong 8, Iñigo 7, Orizu 6, Ebona 5, Tuffin 4, Comboy 2, Holmqvist 2, Escoto 0, Dennison 0, Denila 0, Bayquin 0.
UP 60 – Manuel 16, Desiderio 13, Prado 10, Lim 5, Harris 4, Gomez de Liano 3, Dario 3, Moralde 2, Webb 2, Vito 2, Asilum 0, Jaboneta 0, Romero 0.
Quarters: 8-28; 27-36; 46-46; 63-60.