THERE is no corresponding effort on the part of coach Nash Racela to make TnT Katropa a breeding ground for former Far Eastern University players and coaches.
Racela was quick to point this out following the addition of his long-time assistant Eric Gonzales to the coaching staff of the Katropa in the PBA Philippine Cup.
With the 45-year-old Gonzales, a former track and field star at University of Santo Tomas, coming on board, he will be the latest member of the FEU UAAP champion team of 2015 to join the KaTropa.
Players Roger Pogoy, Alfrancis Tamsi, and rookie Monbert Arong were Racela’s former players with the Morayta-based school, while lead deputy Josh Reyes and Gilbert Lao were likewise part of the Tamaraws’ coaching staff.
Until now, Lao and Reyes remain with FEU as assistants of head coach Olsen Racela.
RR Garcia is another former FEU stalwart now with TnT and played his final year with the Tamaraws during Racela's rookie year as a coach, though the former UAAP MVP never got to win a championship with the school.
“Walang ganoon, nagkataon lang,” Racela stressed.
Familiarity played a big part for the TnT coach to tap the services of Gonzales, who, it so happened, had already been released by GlobalPort following the return of Pido Jarencio as head coach.
“Nagkataon na wala na rin naman siyang team ngayon,” said Racela, who’s partnership with Gonzales dates back to their days with the Batangas Blades in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).
“Siyempre, the previous season nasa GlobalPort pa siya, and mahirap namang kukunin mo siya doon.”
In Gonzales, Racela will have an added veteran presence on the bench aside from Reyes and Bong Ravena.
“Mga bata pa naman kasi sila Gilbert (Lao) and Jonathan de Guzman, so I think maski sila will learn something from him,” he said of Gonzales, who had a brief stint as GlobalPort head coach just before Pumaren came in last season.
“Eric and I go a long way, kaya somehow we already know each other well. But it’s still Josh who’s my lead deputy.”
The Katropa shoot for a follow-up to their first conference win against Alaska, 106-98, when they tangle with three-time defending champion San Miguel on January 13 in the league’s first road game this season in Iloilo.