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Racela and co. happy with Final Four return

By Anthony Divinagracia Posted Sep 8th 2013

Nash Racela would rather set aside their woeful second-round record to look at the bigger picture - a Final Four, and possibly, a Finals return.

Nash Racela has a lot of ways to relieve Far Eastern University (FEU) of the negative vibes.

One – and perhaps the most timely and significant – was leading the Tamaraws back to the Final Four.

The other? Racela just put it this way.

“Meron bang first and second round sa UAAP? Basta ang alam ko lang a total of 14 games and having played 13 games sa pagkakaalam ko 9-4 ba kami ngayon?” the Tamaraws’ rookie mentor replied in jest when asked about their 1-4 record prior to beating Adamson University on Saturday.

“Basta ang alam ko...Wag niyo na kami i-remind nung second round,” Racela said with a smile, eliciting laughter from the press.

Prior to Saturday’s game, Racela recalled how even players outside of the UAAP has taken notice of their forgettable 1-4 card.

“Kahapon (Friday) when we played Alaska sumenyas sa’kin si Dondon Hontiveros na 1-4. Alam ko na pinatutunguhan nun. Sabi ko hindi, 8-4,” said Racela, an assistant coach for Talk ‘N Text in the PBA. “We’ll rather focus that we are 9-4 and we are in the Final Four.”

In between answers from the press, Racela looked at veteran guards RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo and asked them: “Anong pakiramdam niyo na nakabalik na kayo sa Final Four? Dapat nandito kayo palagi ‘di ba?”

Garcia and Romeo murmured words of approval. But a pinch of sarcasm to their detractors won’t actually stray Racela’s mindset from achieving their “eventual goal” – of reaching the Finals.

“Alam namin na hindi pa tapos yung trabaho namin. We talked about this in the pre-game. Today we did a major step towards our eventual goal.

“Basta sa amin all we wanted to do is get this one win today and we have to do our job next game tapos hintay na lang kami. Kung ano yung bumagsak sa harap namin tatanggapin namin.”

Racela heaped praises not just on Garcia and Romeo, who exploded for a season-best 32 points, but also to the other guys like Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy, and skipper Gryann Mendoza.

“It wasn’t a secret na lahat sila dinedepensahan sila RR, Terrence, and even si Mike. So it relieves us of the pressure kapag nag-perform ‘to sina Mac, Roger, and the other guys,” he said.

Belo came up with 18 points, nine rebounds, and three assists to punch the hole left by the suspended Anthony Hargrove.

Garcia for his part was just happy to re-enter the Final Four in his last playing year.

“Siyempre masaya. Kasi last year ko na. Di tulad nung last year ‘di kami namakaspok tapos masama pa season ko. Kaya siguro ito na yung panahon na kailangan na namin bumawi,” said the former league MVP, who finished with 14 points, six assists, and four rebounds.

Romeo shares Garcia’s happiness.

“Sobrang excited ako na maglaro sa Final Four lalo na sa tinatakbo ng team namin na iba yung culture. Gusto ko na ibang FEU team yung maglalaro sa Final Four.”

With just a game behind league-leading National University, FEU can still regain the top spot depending on the result of the other teams’ future matches. But Racela would rather think of what they have achieved so far.

“We just go back to where we really belong.”