Olsen Racela to continue what brother Nash started at FEU

Jane Bracher
Olsen Racela to continue what brother Nash started at FEU
'I’m here to continue the program and hopefully I can do the same and then win a championship in the process,' says Olsen Racela

MANILA, Philippines – The Racela program and legacy at Far Eastern University’s men’s basketball team will not die any time soon.

Olsen Racela, the Tamaraws’ newly appointed head coach, plans on picking up where his brother Nash left off as UAAP Season 80 approaches.

“I’m here to continue what coach Nash has started. He has done a marvelous job the past 4 seasons,” the San Miguel Beermen legend told Rappler. “I’m here to continue that program and mentor young men.” 

Racela will take over for his younger brother this year as Nash moved on to coach the TNT KaTropa in the PBA at the close of UAAP Season 79, when the Tamaraws bowed out after a gallant stand in the Final Four. 

The 46-year-old is aware he has big shoes to fill after Nash’s fruitful 4-year stint in which he put in place a robust recruitment program and steered FEU to its first championship in a decade.

“He transformed this program the past 4 seasons. Final Four, winning a championship, and really mentoring these young men and so mahirap sundan ‘yun (that’s hard to top),” he admitted.

“I will try my best. I’m here to continue the program and hopefully I can do the same and then win a championship in the process.” 

Racela expects to meet the team in mid-January, when the players return from semestral break and only then will be able to take a really good look at what he will be working with. This early, however, the Tamaraws are expected to go far next season with their core group of young rising stars intact. 

Racela already knows for sure that Arvin Tolentino and Hubert Cani will suit up in what will be a reunion for the players and coach from the former Philippine youth team 5 years ago. 

While he still needs to do a full assessment, Racela expects to make only minor adjustments to the team, particularly inserting some of the defensive schemes he learned as an assistant to coach Tim Cone at Barangay Ginebra.

“I’m in a perfect situation where everything’s in place already. The recruitment, the staff, everything is ready so I’ll just come in,” he said. 

Back to his true fulfillment

Though it was the brothers’ mother who was most excited about her son’s FEU appointment (mainly because she won’t have to switch team allegiances), Racela is likewise eager to go back to what makes him happiest as a coach. 

“I’ve always wanted to coach a college team. I actually find fulfillment in coaching the youth. A few years back I coached the Philippine youth team so I really enjoyed that,” he shared. 

Racela handled the under-16 and under-18 youth teams straight out of his PBA retirement in 2011 and the following year as they represented the country at the FIBA Asia Championship. He has since coached the Petron Blaze Boosters (now San Miguel Beermen) and was an assistant for the now Star Hotshots followed by Ginebra at present. 

Like Nash, Racela relishes the idea of mentorship and influencing the lives of young basketball players. This, he said, is the one crucial similarity in coaching style he shares with his brother.

(READ: The difference Nash Racela made for the FEU Tamaraws)

“With coach Nash, we’re brothers but we’re two totally different individuals with different philosophies. But what we do share is the passion for coaching,” he said. “Coaching for us is about mentorship. I find fulfillment in helping young players become better players, better students, better individuals. We share the same vision for that.” 

The key differences, however, lie in their varied approaches to handling players. 

“Nash is more strict. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. You just have to find the balance. I’m more lenient,” he reflected, chuckling. 

Parang dala ko pa ‘yung pagiging player ko (It’s like I still have qualities from my playing years) before that’s why I coach that way. We’ll see what happens. It’s all about helping these kids and young players of FEU and continuing what Nash has started.” 

Racela is also looking forward to his collaboration with Nash, who will serve as consultant to the team, as well as the prospect of learning from his fellow coaches from other teams. 

“Personally I’m very excited to be working again with Nash. We did not get the chance – except for the youth team, which was years ago – to work together. This is one chance of us really working closely together,” he shared.

“I also saw the lineup of coaches next year and I’m excited to be learning things from those coaches, playing against them, coaching against them. Coaching against Tab Baldwin, Aldin Ayo, the Pumaren brothers, Jamike (Jarin).”  – Rappler.com

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