Olsen Racela has had the opportunity to play for some of the greatest minds in Philippine basketball, and that has helped one of the PBA’s all-time greats develop as a coach.
From five-time Coach of the Year Chot Reyes, to the late great Ron Jacobs, to Jong Uichico, then to the league’s 22-time champion mentor Tim Cone, Racela never lacked prestigious inspirations.
Racela played under Reyes during his early years in the PBA with Purefoods, before San Miguel made a move for him 1997. Then-head coach Jacobs was on the lookout for a point guard when he took over the Beermen.
It was with SMB that Racela turned heads with his fine play, and he was rewarded nicely when he was named part of the Philippine Centennial Team for the 1998 Asian Games, mentored by Cone.
And after that stint, Racela returned to the Beermen, who were then under Uichico as Jacobs had left the post. With him as its top point guard, the team became a dynasty that won five championships from 1999-2001.
“I played for Chot Reyes, really the best motivator. I played for Coach Jong Uichico and Coach Ron Jacobs — sila naman grabe ang attention nila sa detail, including preparation. Grabe sila mag-prepare and watch tape — before, VHS tape pa yata ‘yung ginagamit nila eh. I played for Coach Tim also, sa national team,” Racela recalled on Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Coaches Unfiltered, presented by SMART and supported by Mighty Sports and Choi Garden.
It’s a privilege to have the chance to pick the brains of those legends. But besides those multi-decorated coaches, there’s also that one man who, for him, has contributed greatly to his growth as a coach.
“Mentor ko rin is Coach Nash.
“For coaches out there, kailangan meron kayong isang mentor na pwede niyong mapagtanungan. When you say mentor kasi, pwedeng you just follow the system, you learn from him, pero iba ‘yung you have a personal relationship with the coach and you can ask him anything, ask for advice. And ‘yun ‘yung role ni Coach Nash sa akin,” he expressed.
Well, Nash began coaching earlier than Olsen. While the older Racela was busy leading San Miguel’s rise, Nash was already part of the Batangas Blades’ coaching staff in the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association.
“Medyo matagal na nga na nagco-coach ako, mga twenty na. I started in ’99, during the MBA,” recalled Nash, who is currently the head coach of the rebuilding Blackwater Elite.
So for Olsen, who’s a year older, Nash is the “kuya” as far as coaching experience is concerned.
“Kaya siguro akala ng iba mas matanda si Nash because nauna mag-coach si Nash eh. When it comes to coaching, siya ang kuya,” he quipped.
“He has coached for more than twenty years already — professionally ha, including the MBA. Ako, I ask a lot of questions. When I started coaching siya ‘yung tinatanungan ko about his views, his thoughts, lalo na when I started coaching.
“Pero nung naglalaro ako ano pa eh, ako pa ‘yung kuya eh, talagang ‘pag nag-uusap kami, nagdedebatehan kami, I had my own opinion. Pero nung nag-coach na ako, it was a different point of view na as a coach, and I understood na mas experienced si Nash when it comes to coaching,” furthered the nine-time PBA champion.
Olsen had his first-ever coaching gig back in 2011, when he was tasked to mentor the Philippine Youth Team, and part of his staff was Nash. And there, he said, his younger brother taught him plenty.
“Si Coach Nash kasi, like I said, mahaba na ‘yung experience niya sa coaching, so doon sa youth team namin, although he was an assistant coach there, he was full of experience,” said the current Far Eastern University head coach, who took over the post in 2016 following Nash’s resignation as he was appointed the chief bench tactician of TNT KaTropa.
“I remember there were times he’ll give me space. Binigyan niya ako ng space to grow as a coach. And I know that there were times na gusto niyang idiin ‘yung gusto niya pero he wanted me to learn,” he continued.
“Thanks to him, siyempre as a coach doon ka matututo eh. You’ll learn more from your losses or from your mistakes than from your wins, and during that time sa youth team, it helped me a lot that binigyan niya ako ng space to grow.”
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