ROOKIE Kevin Racal is expected to fit in right away at Alaska Aces once he makes the transition from collegiate champion player to PBA player.
Louie Alas, the one responsible for bringing the 6-foot-4 forward to Letran, said Racal will definitely feel at home with the Aces, considering the team almost has the same playing system as the Knights, who ended a 10-year title drought on Wednesday after beating San Beda for this year’s NCAA men’s championship.
“Alam niya na 'yung sistema. Parehas halos yung plays ng Alaska (sa Letran). We both play pressure defense,” said Alas, Racal's former coach at Letran and the chief deputy of Alaska coach Alex Compton.
“Halos three percent lang siguro ang difference (of plays) kung meron man.”
Having just finished his collegiate career with the Knights, Racal has yet to be signed up by the Aces, who tabbed him in the first round at No. 11 overall during the last rookie draft.
But Alas doesn’t see any problem about Racal coming on board. The rookie big man told his former coach he’ll be watching the Aces when they play Blackwater Elite in Friday’s first game of the Smartbro Philippine Cup.
Alas recruited the 24-year-old Racal for Letran five years ago after watching him play for Muntinlupa in the inaugural staging of the Coca-Cola Hoopla.
Muntinlupa coach Siegfried Levita, a former Perpetual Help stalwart who later played for Alas at Las Pinas College, was the one who tipped him off about the potential of the then student from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa.
Under Alas, Racal played in his first NCAA finals in 2012 of which the Knights lost to the Red Lions in the deciding game of the best-of-three series.
Although he saw Racal blossom into a fine player, Alas said Alaska picking him in the draft doesn’t have anything to do with him.
“May mga scenarios na kami before (sa draft) na kung sino ang makukuha dapat may fallback agad kami. Of course, I gave them inputs about Kevin, pero kung 'yung choice namin available pa that time (11th pick kami), we’ll go for it.
“Pero Kevin was on our radar din. And by the time we picked, siya yung we believed, was the next available talent, kaya kinuha naming siya.”
But more than being reunited with his discovery in Racal’s rookie year as a pro, Alas was happy the fifth-year forward ended his collegiate career on a high.
“Dun na lumabas ‘yung experience nila Kevs, ni Mark (Cruz) and (McJour) Luib. Ilang finals na rin ang mga yan,” he said of the three, who played for him during his stay with the team.
“Kumbaga na cancel-out na rin kung anumang experience meron yung San Beda,” said Alas, who gave Letran two championships from 1998 to 2012.