Ex-Eagles Racela, Tolentino, Cani just lifted FEU over Ateneo
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 19, 2017 09:27 PM
FAMILIAR FACES. Hubert Cani, Arvin Tolentino, and head coach Olsen Racela all played a big role in FEU's big-time triumph over Ateneo.
Yet again, Far Eastern University and Ateneo de Manila University are set to go the distance in their semifinals matchup.
The Tamaraws and the Blue Eagles, whichever the twice-to-beat team between them is, have gone to a knockout bout four times in the last 17 years.
The most recent of which has been set now in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament after the boys from Morayta topped the Katipunan-based team, 80-67, on Saturday.
That discards Ateneo’s twice-to-beat advantage and then sets up a knockout bout on Wednesday.
Much of FEU’s big-time win was thanks to head coach Olsen Racela and key cogs Arvin Tolentino and Hubert Cani.
Racela called the shots for a game plan that outworked all of the erstwhile league-leaders while Tolentino and Cani scored 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Those three just so happened to be former Blue Eagles.
For Racela, now the Tamaraws’ mentor, facing his alma matter is no big deal. “Wala naman. Nagkataon lang na sila ang kalaban ko sa Final Four,” he told reporters.
He then continued, “Pero doesn’t matter kung sino kalaban ko. I’m just cherishing the experience of going up agianst different coaches. It just so happened na Ateneo ang kalaban.”
Racela was part of Ateneo’s championship in the late ‘80s.
Tolentino only shared the same sentiment. “Wala na rin sa akin yung ganun, (facing my) former team. Kumbaga, natanggal na rin dahil nasanay na ako kasi nakalaban na namin sila sa summer leagues and dito sa UAAP twice (sa eliminations),” he said.
The sweet-shooting big man wore the blue and white in Seasons 77 and 78 before transferring to Morayta.
And there, Tolentino reiterated that he has found his home. “Sa FEU, yung spirit, na-adopt ko na rin kaya naisip ko nang hindi na ‘to sayang. Hindi na yung, ‘Sayang, sana nandun ako (sa Ateneo),” he shared.
He then continued, “Kasi tinanggap ako nang buong-buo ng FEU.”
Cani, Tolentino’s teammate both in Ateneo and then in FEU, said their sights remain set on the bigger picture. “Siyempre, masarap yung panalo, pero laging sinasabi ni coach Olsen na next play. Itong game na ‘to, tapos na ‘to at iisipin na namin yung next game,” he expressed.
Racela, Tolentino, Cani, and the rest of the Tamaraws figure in a do-or-die matchup with the Blue Eagles on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.