OLSEN Racela may be hundreds of miles away when Petron makes its choices in this Sunday’s PBA rookie draft, but he’s definitely going to be a big, big part of the team in the coming 38th season of the PBA.
The former razzle-dazzle playmaker who served as anchor of San Miguel’s multi-titled teams in the late nineties and early 2000 is set to take over the coaching job for the Boosters, replacing Ato Agustin who he had worked for as an assistant the past two seasons.
Racela’s selection was confirmed by multiple sources to Spin.ph, all of whom refused to be named pending the announcement by San Miguel Corp. officials of his official appointment on Saturday.
According to team insiders, the choice for SMC officials had come down to Olsen and former national coach and now SMC coaching consultant Rajko Toroman after Agustin was formally informed that he won't be returning as coach of the Boosters in the coming season starting on September 30.
The same sources said Racela, 41, was the choice of SMC president Ramon Ang and had the backing of the players while Toroman was the choice of SMC director of sports Noli Eala.
Another issue that delayed his appointment was that the former Ateneo star himself had second thoughts about assuming a PBA head-coaching job at this stage in his career. If the decision was down to him, Racela would have wanted to stay on in his dual role as Under-18 national coach and Petron assistant for a couple more years, people close to the young coach said.
His appointment was sealed during a meeting with Eala, Toroman and other SMC officials days before Racela left with the rest of the Under-18 team for Mongolia for the Fiba under-18 tournament, sources said.
Agustin's fate had been practically sealed following a season that saw the Boosters fail to advance into any of the three conference Finals despite a star studded roster. In the Philippine Cup, the team lost a commanding 3-1 lead in the semifinals, and eventually bowed to repeat champion Talk `N Text in the deciding Game Seven.
Agustin has been asked to stay on as a member of the team's staff, officials said.
Racela will not be around when the draft is held two days from now, although Petron has Toroman and a battery of assistant coaches to take care of business.
Petron is picking first and third overall in Sunday's draft at the Robinsons Midtown Mall in Manila.
Racela was the starting point guard of the San Miguel team of coach Jong Uichico that won five championships from 1999 to 2001. He joined the franchise in 1997 during the time of former national mentor Ron Jacobs and retired after 18 seasons as a pro, playing his final game as a Beerman in Game Six of the 2010-11 Philippine Cup semifinals.