NATIONAL coach Chot Reyes has backed Nash Racela in the ongoing search for a new coach of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, saying he has no doubts that the longtime assistant coach will do well at the helm of a major basketball program.
Racela, brother of Petron head coach Olsen, is one of the coaches being considered to replace Bert Flores, who is set to step down after a late-season collapse saw the deeply talented Tamaraws miss out on a Final Four appearance in the just-concluded UAAP season.
FEU athletic director Mark Molina confirmed that the school has started negotiations with Racela, who he said is one of the candidates for the head-coaching position along with Tamaraws legend Johnny Abarrientos and another coach who he refused to identify at the moment.
"But nothing is final at this point," Molina told Spin.ph.
Racela, however, appears to have the inside track on the job, especially with Abarrientos unsure if he is prepared to take on a major head-coaching role or on whether he has the time to devote to the job considering he is an assistant at San Mig Coffee and active in the legends circuit.
Racela has served as Reyes' assistant since his days with Coca-Cola's defunct PBA franchise and has played the same role for various teams - including San Beda in the NCAA, Talk 'N Text in the pro league, and the Energen Philippine Youth team coached by his brother Olsen.
He is currently an assistant coach at Talk 'N Text, leading the Tropang Texters to two wins in the PBA Philippine Cup while current head coach Norman Black wrapped up his commitment with Ateneo in the UAAP.
"Nash deserves a break," Reyes said. "He deserves to handle a major basketball program and I'm sure he is ready for it."
Reyes, who has given up the Talk 'N Text coaching job to concentrate on his role with the Smart Gilas national team, also admitted that he has held talks with FEU officials, but not in a personal capacity but as executive director of the MVP Sports Foundation.
"There were no discussions with regards to the FEU varsity program," said Reyes. "Ang mga tao ko (Racela) ang kinakausap (ng FEU)."
FEU and the MVP Foundation are in talks on the creation of a sports institute at the school's high school campus in Diliman, Quezon City which could benefit the juniors squad of the Tamaraws, who have one of the best recruitment programs in the country.