Former Blackwater head coach Nash Racela could only hope that he was given ample time to work with the materials he was provided, which could’ve possibly prevented the franchise from falling into a PBA record of ignominy.
The Bossing last week rewrote the league’s history books for having the longest losing skid in history with 19 after bowing to Meralco in the Honda Philippine Cup, prompting owner Dioceldo Sy to once again hot the restart button.
And then came the exit of the veteran mentor after two seasons at the helm, with alternate governor Ariel Vanguardia taking his place on an interim capacity.
This would mark yet another overhaul within the ball club, which pulled off a couple of trades during the offseason that saw Mac Belo go to Meralco and other key guys like Don Trollano, Roi Sumang, and Maurice Shaw to NLEX.
Those players were part of last year’s team that competed in the Clark bubble, where they actually had a promising 2-1 start before losing their remaining games, which, unfortunately, stretched until this conference.
Racela said the 2020 Elite team was already becoming a unit, and that they could’ve definitely brought that over to the new season.
But then, the trades took place, leaving him and his deputies to work with what they have at their disposal. And for the former college coach, he likened their predicament to that of constructing a house — with sudden plan revisions.
“Kumbaga ‘pag gumagawa ka ng bahay, ‘di ba, ‘yung level ng semento, nakita mo ‘to, naglagay ka nito, naglagay ka nito, and then alam mo na in a matter of time, mabubuo ‘yung pader, o ‘yung foundation mo.
“But even before going to that, biglang nabawasan ng ano. Bigla kang… para kang binarena ulit, ‘di ba? So, pinilayan ka ulit,” Racela told Sports Locked and Loaded, hosted by veteran PBA broadcaster Chiqui Reyes.
“Siyempre alam mo naman ‘pag ganun ka, then you need time to adjust again, ‘no. Ayusin ulit ‘yung mga bagay-bagay,” he added.
Not a few wondered how his Blackwater would fare, given the various changes it went through. Asked about what the expectations were heading into the 2021 season, Racela said that such had remained the same.
“Expectations are always the same for them,” he said. “Kahit na anong klaseng lineup ang meron. The worst part is even looking at championships. I understand the goal, ‘no. That’s the goal of everyone else.
“All teams in the PBA would want to win a championship. Why not? Lahat naman tayo. Bakit pa tayo sasali kung hindi tayo magnanais ng championship. But ang importante to me, I think, are realistic goals, ‘no. Realistic expectations.
“And lahat ‘yon, dapat nakatapat ‘yan dapat sa piyesa na meron ka. Ako, naiintindihan ko ‘yon. I would always adjust my expectation based dun sa meron ako — at tsaka roon sa sitwasyon na meron ako,” Racela added.
What the Bossing had suffered was truly disappointing. But like any other setback, the one-time UAAP champion coach with Far Eastern University is looking at the positives of their campaign.
“Yes, there were a lot of positives, ‘no, from that experience despite having a winless record. for one, we’ve built a lot of relationships with a lot of people, and as a coach, yan ang I think pinaka-importante sa akin,” he said.
“There’s one postgame that I had with the team na sinabi ko nga that it’s hard to look at the big picture because of the record that we have, but there are a lot of small victories,” added Racela.
And along with those positives also come the realizations as a coach, mainly — though as cliché as it may sound — trusting the process.
“Number one, you don’t just collect players or put in people and expect them to just perform. Hindi ganun ‘yun eh, ‘no,” he said.
“Na, bubunot lang ako, okay, kailangan kong point guard, pasok. Kailangan ko ng dos, pasok. Kailangan ko ng tres, kailangan ko ng big man, pasok. And then sana manalo ito, ano. There’s always a process that you have to go through. Hindi ganun kadali,” Racela added.
“If you compare our situation with the others ‘no, na sila matagal na silang magkakasama eh… Karamihan ng kalaban namin sa PBA, matagal na silang magkakasama.”