It is safe to say that Adamson University coach Nash Racela and Ateneo de Manila University coach Tab Baldwin have not been the best of friends these past few weeks.
Ever since their schools’ round two clash provoked a strong reaction from Racela, which in turn forced a blunt rebuttal from Baldwin, fireworks were expected during the playoff game between their teams.
And those fireworks exploded with 53 seconds to go in the third quarter as the duo was slapped with technical fouls due to their verbal altercation on the sidelines of the playoff game for the fourth spot, which Ateneo won 70-48.
For Baldwin, their interaction revolved around how Racela could help him with his golf game, a reference to how the latter described the former as his (former?) golf buddy.
The two did not exchange pleasantries after the game.
“I was really upset that the referees stepped in. I thought there was a real moment there where I had the opportunity to learn from Coach Nash about my putting stroke,” quipped the former New Zealand Tall Blacks coach.
“He’s an excellent golfer, and he was giving me some advice. I not only was upset that the referees stopped it but also gave both of us technical fouls,” added the former Gilas coach, who worked with Racela in the past with the national team and TNT.
“We’re not allowed to talk to the referees, so I’m just gonna say thank you to the referee for, you know, taking that learning moment away from me. I’ll talk to coach Nash, and he’ll get me out on the golf course and correct my putting stroke. Lord knows it needs help.”
On the other hand, Racela was much more guarded about his side of events.
“You really want the truth about what he said? You really want to know what came out of his mouth?” he said.
From that moment, it took Racela 15 seconds to come up with what to say next. Rather than perhaps pouring gasoline on the fire, he decided to just let it rest.
“It’s not for kids to hear and read when you write about it, so I won’t say it anymore,” he said.
In the end, it is Baldwin who still has work for the season. He will try to teach his Blue Eagles how they can upset the top-seed UP Fighting Maroons. Ateneo will have to win twice against UP to reach the finals for the seventh straight season.
“UP will be ready to play, but our guys will come out with a lot of heart. Hopefully, we’ll have a curveball or two that could get us a bucket here and there and fight to hang on,” said Baldwin.
Meanwhile, it was the end of the road for Racela. It is back to the drawing board for him, his coaches, and their players as their off-season has begun.
“I’m always excited regardless of the type of talent that we have. A lot of work to be done, but, again, the challenge, during our huddle, the challenge really was for the team to be better next year. How to do that, we don’t know yet,” said Racela.
It remains to be seen if Baldwin and Racela will be on friendlier terms anytime soon, but the UAAP is a small world, and the golf course is always a welcome oasis from the stress of coaching in the league.