FAR Eastern University coach Olsen Racela is looking forward to the coming weeks as the rookie coach and his new team plunges into action in their first tournaments together.
The Tamaraws will be competing in the Milcu Got Skills and the Filoil preseason tournaments which will begin on April 22 and 29, respectively, giving Racela the chance to get to know the team better under a tournament atmosphere.
“It’s our first tournaments together. It’s a chance for me to get to know these players in a tournament setting,” said Racela, who, prior to taking on the FEU job, had a brief run as head coach of Petron (now San Miguel Beer) in the PBA.
Aside from the two preseason tournaments, the Tamaraws are also set to see action in a pocket tournament in Iloilo at the end of April.
“It’s a learning experience for them to prepare for the UAAP, and a learning experience for me since bago ako, para makilala ko sila,” said Racela, who took over the FEU job after brother Nash was named head coach of TNT KaTropa in the PBA.
So far, the Tamaraws looked to be in good hands with the concurrent Ginebra assistant coach. The team has gone undefeated in tune-up games under his watch until last week when the Tamaraws lost to the Lyceum Pirates.
Overall, Racela is satisfied with how his players have been responding to the change.
“Ang kinasama ko lang ng loob, not so much on us losing, is how we played in this game,” Racela said after the loss to Lyceum. “When things are down, we should stick to our system. Parati kong pini-preach ‘yung sticking to the system, whatever happens. And it starts on the defensive end.”
“Pero okay naman kami. Guys are doing well offensively and defensively. We are a much smaller team after (Prince) Orizu but overall, they are working hard in practice. Things are going according to plan,” Racela said.
The true test won't come until the Tamaraws compete in the preseason tournaments, Racela admitted.
“Iba ‘yung practice, iba ‘yung tune-up, iba ‘yung talagang game na. Makikita mo talaga kung sinong players will perform at different stages and levels,” said Racela.