NEW Far Eastern University coach Olsen Racela is glad to reunite with two former players and eager to meet the new recruits as the Tamaraws begin the new year filled with hope.
Hubert Cani and Arvin Tolentino, former Ateneo players who played for the Philippine youth team under Racela, are set to suit up for the Tamaraws in Racela's first year in charge since taking over from younger brother Nash.
That should save Racela a few steps in the getting-to-know-you phase with the Tamaraws, who are now without Raymar Jose and Monbert Arong.
“Although two players will be graduating, Hubert Cani and Arvin Tolentino will play. When it comes to familiarity, those two players played for me in the youth team,” said Racela.
The Tamaraws are expected to return to training in mid-January.
“Actually ang kilala ko pa lang, sila Hubert and Arvin, who sent me text messages [after the appointment became official]. There are some more recruits who are really good but I haven’t seen them up close,” said Racela.
Cani, a former National University Bullpup, and Tolentino, a former San Beda Red Cub, had suited up for the Ateneo Blue Eagles in college but their stints were cut short due to some issues with academic requirements.
The two make a fresh start with the Tamaraws and under Racela, the same coach they played for during the 2011 Fiba-Asia Under-16 Championship where the Philippines finished third.
Racela said having two familiar players will go a long way as he takes over the job from Nash, who is now head coach of TNT KaTropa in the PBA.
“I like the line-up this year. We will be a guard-based team. Excited ang lahat. We still hope to be there to be contenders just like the past years,” said Racela.