Meet Mr. Brightside
BEFORE Nash Racela took over the Far Eastern University program, he made sure everyone would buy into his plan to change the team culture.
“There was a lot of resistance at first,” admitted Racela Thursday night in an interview with Sports IQ, the Inquirer’s live omni-platform sports talk show.
Racela inherited a team that been the target of nasty basketball rumors, including game-fixing. Its players would often get into on-court controversies. And one player had been accused of taking drugs.
So when the God-fearing Racela took over the Tamaraws’ reins in 2013, changing the persona of the team topped his agenda.
“We are not only here to change the style of basketball we play, but [more importantly] change [the team’s] culture,” said Racela. “It was a hard buy at the start.”
But Racela looked beyond the players’ reputations and focused on their potential. Ever the optimist, Racela labored on until the players bought into the new culture—they became more respectful of each other and of the game.
And the results manifested itself on the basketball side.
In Racela’s third season, the Tamaraws gored University of Santo Tomas for the title that ended the school’s 10-year drought.
Moreover, he did it with a team that chose class over crass, led by Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy and Mike Tolomia.
“I don’t think it was easy on the part of the players, it took a lot of sacrifice on their part,” said Racela who picked Raymar Jose as the perfect example of the team’s change.
“I remember the first year I was in FEU, he was the type of player who would retaliate pag tinamaan ng kalaban. Any time sasabog lang. Pero ngayon very composed na, controlled ang emotions; nakakatuwa na because I could use him as an example sa younger players.”
Now, Racela can breathe easily in the knowledge that every time FEU gets into the headline, it will be for the right basketball reasons.