MANILA, Philippines – Nash Racela has one wish for his birthday: a big championship trophy. (LIVE BLOG: UAAP 2015 Finals Game 1 – UST vs FEU)
The FEU Tamaraws head coach will be turning 44 on Monday, November 30 and he hopes to wake up that morning feeling victorious instead of worrying about a do-or-die Game 3 two days later.
“Hopefully we’re champions already on my birthday,” Racela shared his wish Monday night, November 23, two days before Game 1 of the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball Finals between FEU and the UST Growling Tigers.
Racela led the Tamaraws to their second straight Finals appearance this year and in the process opened a new chapter in history as it is the first time in 36 years that FEU and UST will meet in the UAAP Finals.
The last time was on October 18, 1979, where FEU prevailed, 100-89, to win the title. (READ: The Lowdown: UST vs FEU – UAAP Season 78 Finals trivia)
“Hindi ko naalala yun. Siguro naglalaro na ako (ng basketball noon) pero hindi ko alam e (I don’t remember it. I might have been playing already but I didn’t know about it),” Racela said, as he tried to rack his brain for any memory of that time in his youth, but came up empty.
“I was surprised I only just found out about all the other details now. FEU is going for number 20, UST is going for number 19. And it’s been over 30 years since they last battled,” he added in Filipino.
Racela may not have any memory of that match-up, but he knows for sure this 2015 battle will be one to remember.
“These are two schools that aren’t really spending much with the recruitment. But if you look at it, we’re successful programs,” noted Racela. “Nakakatuwa lang kasi hindi kami masyado gumagastos pero nandito kami sa (It’s nice because we don’t spend much but we’re here in the) Finals playing each other. I think more than the history, I’m more excited because of that.”
Heading into Wednesday’s Game 1, Racela and his entire squad are happy to play the role of underdogs against the top seeded UST, who also swept FEU in the eliminations. (READ: The best of the best: FEU-UST UAAP Finals preview)
“It’s nice that we are the underdogs,” the coach said. “That gives you a different kind of motivation and challenge.”
Though the Tamaraws may see themselves as underdogs, they match up evenly with the Tigers. Both are balanced offensive and defensive teams with reliable go-to guys and supporting casts.
“I think it will be hunger,” Racela said, sharing what he believes will tip the scale in favor of one team. “I think it’s always the biggest factor, that hunger. At the end of the day, when the ball is in front of you, who wants it more. It’s a cliché but it’s true.” – Rappler.com