Nash Racela can only shake his head and shrug his shoulders when someone approaches him with the question that everyone wants answered.
How did he get RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo to play good basketball music so good as to send the Far Eastern University Tamaraws to a 7-0 start after one round in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
“If there was a secret, I wish I knew,” Racela told the Inquirer.
The young mentor, a regular fixture beside national coach Chot Reyes at the Gilas Pilipinas national team and when the latter was head coach of Talk ‘N Text in the PBA, said all he did was talk to both players.
“I told them to think long term,” he said. “I told them this is what people perceive them to be. And then I asked them, ‘do you want these impressions to stick all the way to when they would apply for the PBA draft?”
It also helped that Racela put his foot down inside the FEU locker room. Sources in the team said Racela exudes a quiet and calm authority inside the dugout, but firmly makes sure he has the final say.
Racela said he still is surprised about the perceptions people have about Garcia and Romeo.
“Honestly speaking, there was never any problem and I still am surprised when people ask me that question,” he said. “There was really very little problem when it comes to them coexisting.”
In fact, Racela said, he was surprised by what he found out about both stars during his early stint as coach of FEU.
“RR, he’s very mature. He actually calls out plays for Terrence,” said Racela. “He sets up Terrence a lot.”
“On the other hand, very few people know that Terrence is a bright kid. And I’m not talking about just his basketball IQ,” said Racela. “He knows a lot of things. Sometimes, he immediately understands what I mean even before I’m done saying it.”
The Tamaraws are three games ahead of their closest pursuer and are two wins short of an outright Final Four slot. But Racela doesn’t want his players to ease up on the gas pedal.
“I keep reminding them that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Hopefully, this break won’t hurt our momentum. Hopefully, the players will continue to play with a purpose.”