FEU chalks up loss to exhaustion
MANILA, Philippines – Far Eastern University (FEU) lost for the third time in four games last Wednesday, getting routed by the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 92-73, in a contest that saw the Tamaraws get off to a flat start and never get themselves sorted out.
The Tamaraws’ usually explosive offense was out of sync against Ateneo, with MVP-frontrunner Terrence Romeo needing to shoot 24 times to get to 19 points. They were a step slow on defense, and the Blue Eagles punished them repeatedly, especially in the first half when the defending champions shot nearly 60% from the field.
Yet despite the loss, FEU head coach Nash Racela said the mood in the Tamaraws’ locker room was “positive,” and chalked up the defeat to fatigue.
“We weren’t able to match the energy level of Ateneo. We’re thinking that this might be an effect of the double overtime win last Sunday,” Racela said after the game.
Last Sunday, the Tamaraws out-lasted the University of the East Red Warriors in an epic double-overtime game, winning 98-94 to snap a two-game losing streak. In that game, Romeo played for 41 minutes and scored 30 points.
“Tingin ko, hindi pa talaga nakaka-recover ‘yung mga players namin,” said Racela.
“Galing kami sa panalo last game, tapos sobrang pagod,” said Romeo, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. “Kulang ‘yung time namin para maka-recover.”
“Hindi pa namin tapos i-celebrate ‘yung panalo,” Romeo added, “kaya medyo relaxed pa kami.”
Racela said that at the halftime break, with FEU trailing 28-51, he asked his players if they were tired.
“That’s the question I asked. Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘I want you to be honest with me. If you feel you’re hurting, or you feel you’re tired, I won’t take it against you. Just be honest,’” he related.
“Kasi ang hirap na papalaruin ka, tapos wala akong nakuha. I’d rather use other players,” he said.
Racela said no player outright admitted that they were tired, but to him it was “very obvious.”
“Actually, si (Gryann) Mendoza, noong first quarter pa lang, he was starting to cramp up,” he said.
It was a combination of physical and emotional exhaustion, according to both Racela and Romeo.
“I think it’s a combination, but it’s more physical, really,” said the coach. “The mental aspect, we always talk about it. Kaya lang, sometimes, hindi kayang i-overcome what you feel physically.”
Although FEU’s hold on the top spot of the league standings is slipping, Racela said the squad is still positive.
“After the game, our post-game was still positive,” said Racela. “Sabi namin, everybody goes through that, so ang importante is how we recover again for the next game. That’s what’s important.”
“Sabi nga namin, it’s important that you understand what we are going through with these back-to-back games. In the playoffs, usually it’s a Wednesday game, then a weekend game. Ganoon ang laro, so recovery is important,” he added.
“It’s good that we experience it now, para mapaghandaan natin in the future.”
Romeo, for his part, said the Tamaraws will continue to work hard and do their best in their remaining games.
“Confident kami na kaya naming mag-bounce back,” Romeo said. “Pero hindi namin pina-pangunahan na panalo kaagad. Basta, gagawin namin lahat para mag-bounce back.”