NASH Racela hopes to complete a job he left unfinished seven years ago.
The year 2005 marked the last time Racela handled a college basketball team, an inexperienced coach at the reins of a rebuilding San Beda Red Lions team in the NCAA. So forgettable was the campaign that Racela was no longer around even before the eliminations could end.
The man who replaced him, Koy Banal, went on to steer the Red Lions to their first championship in 28 years behind a roster bannered by Nigerian import Sam Ekwe, Pong Escobal, and Yousif Aljamal.
Now, Racela finds himself back in the college game after he was named the new mentor of the underachieving Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the UAAP, replacing Bert Flores.
The official appointment of Racela came as a surprise since the school has long held a tradition of naming former players as varsity coaches. He is actually the first non-FEU alumnus to handle the team since – ironically enough - Banal called the shots for the team early in 2000.
Racela admitted being named FEU coach has yet to sink in when contacted by Spin.ph.
“Siguro para sa akin (talaga), it was worth the wait,” said Racela. “It’s nice to be back in college basketball.”
The FEU coaching job capped a blissful two weeks for Racela, who held a slew of assistant coaching jobs before the breaks started coming his way.
Just last week, he was formally introduced as head coach of the Fruitas Shakers in the PBA D-League. Before that, he was interim coach of Talk ‘N Text for at least two games as the team waited for Norman Black to wrap up unfinished business for the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP.
It was a break Racela has long been itching for.
“I’ve been wanting to coach a team and it never came a reality,” admitted the soft-spoken younger brother of Petron head coach Olsen Racela. “I’m thankful to God na eto na ‘yung hinintay ko ng matagal. All of a sudden, I have two teams (to coach).”
Racela declined to speculate on the composition of next year’s FEU team after it missed the Final Four this season despite a winning 9-5 record. But he believes the Tamaraws will remain formidable as he looks forward to putting his imprint on one of the major teams in college basketball.
“I’m excited to lead the team," he said. "Alam naman natin na every year, FEU has always been a contender in the UAAP.”