Is Olsen pressured to win FEU a UAAP title like Nash?
MANILA, Philippines – It's not often that a head coach takes over a team from his brother, but that was the case in UAAP Season 80 when Olsen Racela replaced his sibling, Nash, in leading the Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
Although FEU dropped in the standings with a 7-7 record, they still played well enough in Olsen's first year to make the Final Four, where they took eventual champion Ateneo to the limit in a do-or-die Game 2.
Now entering his second year calling the shots for the Tamaraws, does Olsen feel any pressure to tie the accomplishment of his brother, who led FEU to the finals in his second year and to the UAAP title in his third?
"Winning a championship comes with the job. It goes with the territory," according to Olsen, who knew that accepting a high-profile job like coaching FEU came with championship-heavy expectations.
"Your goal is to be successful, and if it's a coaching job, your goal is to win championships."
Added the former San Miguel Beermen legend: "It just so happened that it's my brother who I took over from and he gave a championship to FEU so hopefully, God-willing, and we hope to be healthy this year and hopefully we pull some surprises and win it this year."
FEU should be considered one of the UAAP title favorites. The veteran-heavy team only has two new faces and will be led by players who are seasoned with UAAP experience.
"They've been through wars already," Olsen said of his Tamaraws. "They know how it feels to play in the Final Four, but of course you cannot just count on experience. There are a lot of factors, but of course to have experience is a big part of success, so we welcome that."
Richard Escoto, Ken Tuffin, and Arvin Tolentino are expected to headline FEU's frontline, while guards JR Parker and Hubert Cani will lead the team's guard attack. Overall, this year's FEU roster is deep and loaded, with anyone able to hurt the opposition in any game.
After coming one possession away from making it to the UAAP Finals last year, Racela hopes his team will finally take that next step in Season 81.
"What we want or our goal this year is to improve from our performance last year. Ang FEU naman (Here in FEU), we always pride ourselves in we've always been there, every year, so this year will be no different. But like I said, we want to improve from last year's performance," he said.
"We didn't really do a good job of getting a good record going into the Final Four so we hope to get as many wins as possible to get us a better chance of advancing and then see what happens from there."
So far in the offseason, the Tamaraws have proven they have what it takes to be considered a threat for the UAAP championship. The team had an impressive showing in the Filoil tournament, where they eliminated La Salle in the quarterfinals before pushing Ateneo to the limit in the semis.
"Sa tingin ko kaya namin kung sino man matapat sa amin, kasi may tiwala kami kay Coach O kung ano gagawin niya sa sistema niya, so lagi lang kami mag titiwala kay Coach O," said Cani, who turned heads with his performance during the summer tourney.
(I think we can take on whoever we face because we have faith in Coach O’s system, so we’re always trusting him.)
The trust goes both ways. For Racela, he believes his guys will come back better this season.
"They know what it takes. They've learned from our past mistakes and hopefully like I said, this will be a different result."
FEU's season begins on Saturday, September 8, against the Green Archers. – Rappler.com