AFTER an accomplished 18-year career marked by nine PBA championships, Olsen Racela couldn’t hide his disappointment when he heard he wasn’t included in the pro league's list of '40 Greatest Players.'
“I hope it’s not true, pero ganun eh, di kami nag-MVP eh. Kung nag-MVP kami, nandun sana kami, automatic,” Racela said, referring to himself and former San Miguel Beer teammate Danny Seigle’s non-inclusion in the “greatest” list.
While the PBA has yet to officially come out with its updated list of its “greatest players” in time for the pro league’s 40th anniversary in April, Racela was honest enough to say that he was hoping to be part of the elite list, now that he has retired.
“Of course, you’re hoping na mapasama ka dun eventually. Kasi nung sa 25 (Greatest players), I was still playing, di ko ma-imagine ang sarili ko dun. But now that I’m retired, gusto ko mapasama dun sa greatest,” said the 44-year-old former Petron/San Miguel coach.
“Just to be considered (for the list), it’s an honor already, but if you’re considered, it means you have a chance.”
Racela, selected 12th overall by Purefoods in 1993, was a five-time PBA All-Star, two-time Mythical First Team member, and played for the all-pro national squads in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games under Tim Cone and 2002 Busan Asiad under Jong Uichico.
He won two PBA titles with Purefoods as Dindo Pumaren’s chief backup, before playing the lead role in San Miguel’s seven league championships from 1999 through 2011.
Racela said he and “Living Legend” Sonny Jaworski are the only two PBA guards who have played at 40 or beyond before retiring for good.
“Sayang lang kasi, of all the guards aside from Jaworski, I played the longest," said the former Purefoods and San Miguel Beer star. "Maybe dun na lang sa 50 (greatest).”
But regardless of the result, Racela was quick to point out that he respects the decision of the selection committee.
“But the committee knows what they are doing. They are composed of the brilliant minds in Philippine basketball. They have their own opinion. Kung di ako kasama okay lang, ganun talaga eh,” said Racela, who retired in January, 2011.
Incidentally, the selection committee for the '40 Greatest' list included Jaworski, along with Freddie Webb, PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, and sportswriters/ columnists Quinito Henson and Barry Pascua.