BARANGAY Ginebra deputy coach Olsen Racela doesn’t hide the fact his late mentor Ron Jacobs was a big inspiration in his transition to a career in coaching.
Racela said Jacobs had a big influence on him becoming a teacher of the game, so much so he molded his philosophy after that of the former Loyola Marymount coach, who passed away on Christmas Eve 14 years after suffering a massive stroke on the very same day.
“Yes, definitely,” said Racela, who paid tribute to his fallen mentor on Sunday during the first of the scheduled two-day viewing of Jacobs’ remains at the Sanctuario de San Antonio. “A lot of what I am now as a coach has to do with Coach Ron. Siya yung idol ko. Actually him and coach Tim (Cone) are great influences on me becoming a coach.”
Racela disclosed having talked to Jacobs when he first accepted a coaching job in the PBA as assistant at San Miguel (then carrying the name Petron).
“I told him idol ko siya kaya gagawin ko ‘yun,” he said.
[See COMMENTARY: Why Gilas and future PH teams owe Ron Jacobs a debt of gratitude]
Aside from that, Racela, 45, said it was Jacobs’ who really brought out the best in him as a pro.
The former Ateneo point guard served as mere back-up to Dindo Pumaren at Purefoods during his first four years in the league, before Jacobs plucked him out of obscurity by making him the top playmaker of San Miguel when the former national team coach took over the coaching reins of the Beermen.
“Alam naman ng lahat na ‘yung turnaround ng career ko came when he recruited me sa San Miguel. So I owe him a lot,” he added.
Racela was so grateful to Jacobs that he – along with some former San Miguel boys of Jacobs – would visit the former national coach at home during his birthday (Dec. 27) even if he was already bed-ridden.
“The past years nag-deteriorate na siya, pero hindi siya payat, ok pa rin siya,” he said of Jacobs, 73. "It’s just hindi siya makasalita and hindi siya makadilat.”
“And we know kahit one way lang, kami lang yung nagsasalita, alam niyang kami 'yun.”
There was just a sadness in Racela’s voice when he said he’ll be visiting Jacobs on his birthday right on the first night of his wake.
“Birthday niya December 27, pero waka na ang bisita namin,” Racela noted.
Nonetheless, he likes to remember Jacobs for all the wonderful things he did for him and Philippine basketball.
“He is a great motivator and you can see how concerned he is when it comes to his players. It was not just about the basketball players, but about the person, kaya father figure lahat ang turing ng players na na-under sa kanya,” said Racela.