Victorious FEU wants to avoid last year’s UAAP Finals mistake

MANILA, Philippines – One win does not a championship make.

The FEU Tamaraws won Game 1 of the UAAP Season 78 Finals Wednesday, November 25, but were in no mood to celebrate knowing full well the repercussions of getting too excited from an early win. (IN PHOTOS: FEU draws first blood vs UST in UAAP Finals)

“I think we learned our lesson from last year’s finals. We were up one game but we lost the series,” said head coach Nash Racela, who came with his players to the press room looking composed and pensive. 

FEU’s 75-64 Game 1 win over the UST Growling Tigers in the best-of-3 UAAP Finals puts them in the same position they were in during the last season against the NU Bulldogs. The Tamaraws also won Game 1 but eventually faltered in the last 2 games to lose the series. 

They paid the cost of overconfidence and are now wary of making the same mistake twice. 

“We’re hoping that that’s a good reminder for us to just be humble, continue to work and correct things so that we’ll get another win,” said Racela, who expects UST to “come back strong” by Game 2 on Saturday, November 28. 

“That’s the objective, we got one win and the series is not yet over. We need another win.”

After the final buzzer sounded, co-captain Mike Tolomia quickly calmed down his celebrating teammates and huddled them together.

“I just told them not to celebrate immediately because this is the same thing that happened last year where we got one over NU, so we have nothing to celebrate here,” the veteran guard shared in Filipino what he told his teammates.

The Tamaraws appeared in the zone all game long Wednesday as they built a 14-point lead over the Tigers in the first half. They showed even stronger concentration as they weathered UST’s fourth quarter rally and finished them off on a 14-2 run. 

Should FEU win on Saturday, it will be the school’s 20th UAAP men’s basketball championship and its first in a decade. They obviously want to end things right there and then.

“We’ll stay focused. As coach said, it’s not over yet, we shouldn’t celebrate,” co-captain Mac Belo said in Filipino how the team will approach Game 2.  

“We’re back to 0. We will put in more effort going into Game 2. And we won’t lose our focus because we already learned from what happened to us last season. We must keep pushing come Game 2. –