Racela rues news leak on Jericho Cruz trade proves a distraction for TNT
Nash Racela and the KaTropa are fighting for dear life in the Philippine Cup eliminations.

BEFORE Jericho Cruz becomes a welcome addition, news of his  trade became a distraction for TNT KaTropa.

Instead of being excited over the arrival of the former Rain or Shine guard, Texters coach Nash Racela felt the swap with the E-Painters on Wednesday did more harm than good – at least initially – to his team in a 99-84 loss to GlobalPort in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday.

“I was really surprised yesterday when I read about the interview of coach Caloy. I think it had an effect on our game, because when I entered the dugout, iba yung mukha ng players eh,” Racela said of the trade that sent Sidney Onwubere and a 2018 first-round pick to ROS. “It was really a surprise to them.”

“I talked to them right before the game, told them the best way to deal with it is just be professionals. It’s part of the business,” he added. “Of course we would’ve wanted na sana, kung pwede, pag final na, then that’s the only time it comes out, but ganun talaga.”

The deal was still for approval by league commissioner Willie Marical when the game was played. It was approved on Thursday afternoon.

Racela felt the Texters were distracted by the news, so much so that they found themselves on the backfoot after falling behind by as much as 30 points early.

“Masyadong malaki yung nilamang ng Global. They really played well,” Racela admitted. “They made their shots from the outside at the start, tapos they even made tough shots when we were making our run, so mahirap bumalik pag ganun.”

Asked if fatigue was a factor with the Texters playing their third game in a week, Racela stuck to the positives by pointing out that his team tried to make a rally in the final frame.  

“Yeah, that’s (fatigue) part of it, but again, just focusing on the second half, we saw the effort of the players,” Racela said. “First half was really questionable, but second half, at least they put in a better effort.”

The loss was the Texters’ sixth in 10 games, putting their playoff bid in jeopardy and leaving them in a must-win situation in their last game against NLEX.  

“At this point, hawak mo pa rin yung kapalaran mo because for us to be able to give ourselves a chance, we still need to win that last game,” Racela said. “If we lose that, wala na tayong pinaguusapan. But if we still correct things and get one win, maybe that gives us some kahit na maliit na chance.”


Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos