THE season started on the horror note but ended on a high for Olsen Racela.
After a woeful two-conference stint as head coach of Petron, Racela redeemed himself by winning a championship as one of Tim Cone’s deputies at San Mig Coffee.
The Mixers won their winner-take-all showdown with Racela’s former team, 87-77, Friday night to claim the PBA Governors Cup title before a jampacked Smart-Araneta Coliseum crowd.
The irony of him ending up facing Petron in the finals was not lost on the young coach.
“Hindi ko akalain na after a bad year, it will end this way,” he shared to Spin.ph amid the pandemonium inside the San Mig Coffee dugout. “Grabe, Petron pa ang kalaban namin sa Finals.”
Racela began the league’s 38th season guided on the Petron bench by active consultant Rajko Toroman, who would later leave the team four games into the Philippine Cup after the Boosters had a tough start in the conference.
Left on his own, it didn’t get any better for the former San Miguel Beer point guard, who ended his two-conference stint as head coach with a 14-17 (win-loss) record.
He would eventually be affected by the coaching rigodon initiated by San Miguel management as Gee Abanilla took over the reins at Petron as he was shipped to the Mixers to serve as assistant to Cone along with Jeff Cariaso and Johnny Abarrientos.
“Everything happens for a reason. Of course, happy ending for me,” said Racela, who played for San Mig (formerly Purefoods) when he turned pro back in 1993.
But Racela said he wouldn't have felt so bad losing the championship against the very same team he nurtured to start the season.
“Either way I’d be happy because kung mag-champion ang Petron ok din. Kung San Mig, siyempre nandito na ako e,” said the 42-year-old former national youth coach.
Although he’s celebrating San Mig’s 10th franchise title, deep inside he also felt a little bit for his former team.
“Mixed feelings e,” he admitted.
“Kanina nga si Danny I (Ildefonso) `yung kayakap ko,” said Racela, referring to his former teammate with whom he won several championships while still playing for the Beermen. "I would have loved to win another championship with him pero ganun talaga.
"That’s PBA life.”