CALLING the shots for Far Eastern University in the UAAP requires a lot of doing and patience, even for an experienced coach like Olsen Racela.
“I believe coaches are first and foremost teachers kaya it requires patience. Iyon ang una kong natutunan noong nag-coach ako, talagang kailangan pasensiyoso ka dahil it’s a repetition,” Racela said in the Coaches Unfiltered podcast.
“Kapag may hindi nagawa (iyong players), ulit nang ulit then hindi naman nila talaga makukuha agad iyong itinuturo mo kaya kailangan ng patience, but to answer your question, basketball is about values-formation,” he added.
Racela, 49, was a star playmaker for San Miguel in an 18-year pro league stint that was laced with nine titles. He called the shots for Petron (San Miguel) from 2012 to 2013.
Now in his fourth year at the helm of FEU, Racela said what he is trying to teach his charges goes beyond the Xs and Os.
“Ang dami kong natutunan na values noong naglalaro ako and that’s what we try to teach to them— the value of discipline, the value of, right now, overcoming adversity lalo na nandito tayo sa pandemic, ‘di ba? Especially, teaching young kids sa FEU, mental toughness is very important,” offered Racela, who also served as an assistant to Tim Cone at Ginebra in the PBA.
“Those are just some of the values that you learned while playing the game of basketball and hopefully, these kids learn that and mai-apply nila sa buhay nila.”
Due to the health risks and uncertainties brought about by COVID-19 pandemic, the UAAP is eyeing to launch its 83rd season, set to be hosted by La Salle, only next year.
Metro Manila and most parts of the country have been placed under the less strict general community quarantine last June 1 but recreational basketball games, however, remain prohibited.
After taking over from his younger brother Nash at the helm of the Tams in 2016, the older Racela opted to stick to the dribble-drive offense of Nash, for good reason.
Under Nash Racela, FEU won the title in 2015 against University of Santo Tomas in three grueling games behind now pros Roger Pogoy, Mac Belo, and Mike Tolomia.
Racela is excited about the coming return to the squad of skipper Kenneth Tuffin, who is proving his mettle with Taranaki in the New Zealand National Basketball League.
“With his experience sa New Zealand, I’m excited kasi nakita ko iyong improvement niya (Tuffin). But again, we have players from last year who are shooters like Xyrus Torres, and then another point guard na backup ni LJ (Gonzales), si Royce Alforque who could play LJ’s role also and then Rey Bienes who is a ‘stretch four’ also, so you have to know your personnel,” said Racela.
“Feeling ko iyong dribble-drive offense or four-out, one-in offense is perfect for the kind of line-up that we have in FEU.”
The Morayta-based crew finished the elimination round with an 8-6 card in the last UAAP cage wars for third.
The Tams, however, bowed to the No. 4 Growling Tigers in their stepladder semifinals duel.
FEU lost guard Wendell Comboy, big man Barkley Eboña, and playmaker Hubert Cani due to graduation.
Apart from Tuffin, foremost among those expected to lead the Tams in their bid to end a five-year drought are guards L-Jay Gonzales, Xyrus Torres, and Royce Alforque, forward Brandrey Bienes, and prized new additions RJ Abarrientos and Nigerian slotman Emman Ojoula.