Former PH Youth team coach Olsen Racela excited to make transition to college game
New FEU coach Olsen Racela says his previous work as head coach of the Philippine Youth team will come in handy as he coaches a collegiate squad for the first time. Jaime Campos

THE transition from coaching a pro ballclub to handling one of the country’s most successful college programs will not be a problem for Olsen Racela.

The new mentor of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws said his previous work as head coach of the Philippine Youth team will come in handy as he coaches a collegiate squad for the first time.

Racela was appointed to the coaching post of the Tamaraws three weeks ago following the resignation of younger brother Nash, who took over the reins at TnT Katropa in the PBA.

“Hindii naman siguro,” was the reply of the Barangay Ginebra deputy coach when asked by SPIN.ph if there would be a major adjustment on his part.

“Personally, I find fulfillment coaching the youth. I handled the PH Youth team before, so this is an opportunity for me to coach young players again. I’m really very excited.”

The 46-year-old Racela handled the national youth squad five years ago, steering it to a sweep of the 2011 U-16 and 2012 U-18 South East Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) championships. He also guided the U-16 team to a fourth-place finish in the Fiba-Asia Youth meet, and to a sixth place stint in the U-18 edition of the same meet.

Following his work with the national squad, Racela accepted the coaching job at San Miguel (Petron) and lasted for just a season.

While calling the shots for a college team with a rich winning tradition may be a new experience for him, Racela gave credit where it is due, recognizing the work his brother has done for the Tamaraws, who made the Final Four in the last five years the team was under his watch, including a championship in 2015.

“The nice thing about this program is that everything is in place. Yung recruits nila, yung programa nila, yung sistema nila, the staff that they have. Everything is in place,” he noted.

[See Olsen Racela excited to reunite with former youth players Cani, Tolentino at FEU]

The coaching staff will also remain intact, led by deputies Josh Reyes, Eric Gonzales, Johnny Abarrientos, and Jojo Lastimosa.

“Ako lang ang bago, ako lang ang papasok,” Racela admitted. “Walang masyadong manggugulo, ako ang mag-a-adjust.”

One thing that also motivates him in accepting the post is the opportunity of working with brother Nash in the same team. The younger Racela will stay with the Morayta-based school as consultant.

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“I’ll be working with my brother again. We haven’t worked closely together,” said the retired playmaker out of Ateneo. “Last time was player pa ako and coach siya (as assistant of Chot Reyes at San Miguel). After that, puro magkalaban na kami.”

Racela will start his first practice with the Tamarwas this month.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos