Inside the Nest: The new man at the helm

Date Posted: December 1, 2021 at 01:35 PM

A new era has begun for Adamson basketball.

This is as one-time UAAP titlist Nash Racela has taken the reigns from Franz Pumaren after the latter left his post to focus on his political career.

With his arrival, many may expect he can repeat what he did with FEU, leading them to a UAAP championship, but the soft-spoken mentor quickly shot down any expectations that he would instantly bring a UAAP Men’s Basketball title to Adamson, a feat that the school has not experienced since Season 40 (1977-1978).

He may not be a fan of assuring a championship, but he is certain that the boys from San Marcelino will be competitive in every ball game, and in the game of life.

“I would always say I know all schools have the same goals [championship], but in terms of expectation, all I can say is we will give our best and we will compete for sure every single game, every single season,” he told Adamson News in an online interview.

Coach Nash, though, remained optimistic on their chances of eventually bringing home a UAAP chip to the Falcons’ Nest.

“[H]opefully, by developing the right people, we would also achieve what every school dreams of. I don’t really want to mention, but again, I’m not a believer in claiming wins and championships, yet, that’s really the ultimate goal. Everything will fall into place as long as we do our part,” he said.

From Morayta to San Marcelino

Coach Nash is known in the UAAP for his work with the FEU Tamaraws, punctuated by the UAAP 78 title, and his partnership with his brother, Olsen, in the Morayta-based squad sidelines.

Now, coming back to the collegiate ranks, the decorated mentor shared that although he expects nothing but the same intensity and school spirit when he leads his new team in the upcoming UAAP 83, his ultimate goal is to see his players grow on and off the court.

“[T]he reason why I like coaching college is because I like developing and building people especially young people, to help them become men. I always thought that more than the championships, more than the wins, the biggest trophy for me is seeing my players developing into men,” he explained.

“[N]ow that I’m back in college, that’s really the plan and I hope that, again, I would be able to somehow affect people’s lives – yung mga players natin, matulungan ko sila na mapaganda pa sana yung future nila.”

Coach Nash also treated his appointment as AdU’s Head Coach as ‘a part of God’s plan’ for him, and that his coaching tilts and experiences led him to this path with the Vincentian school.

Soaring with Falcons

Despite not meeting his boys as of this writing, AdU’s new chief tactician is upbeat with the potential that the team currently has.

“[A]ng alam ko lang medyo nawalan tayo ng maraming players but we have younger ones –- good players who could potentially be great players,” he mentioned pertaining to the graduation of last season’s main gunners Jerrick Ahanmisi, Val Chauca, and Simon Camacho.

At present, Coach Nash will be tasked to lead a young team headline by do-it-all guard Jerom Lastimosa, promising wing AP Manlapaz, and bigs Lenda Douanga  and Aaron Fermin. New recruits will also be coming in, namely former Ateneo Eaglets captain Joaquin Jaymalin and Fil-Italian gunslingers Roger Syvles delos Reyes and Adrian Punzalan.

Douanga already made a case for himself after breaking out in the Falcons’ win over the NU Bulldogs last year where he hit a buzzer beater to lift the boys in white and blue. AdU’s foreign reinforcement totaled monster numbers of 26 points and 19 rebounds.

Lastimosa, meanwhile, remains the steady presence in the Falcon offense, and a pesky stopper in the defensive end.

“I’m aware that we have a number of good guards in Adamson – sila Lastimosa is there and the younger guys that came in, rookies,” Coach Nash said, talking about the pieces he is to work with, also mentioning that the team may be running thin in some key positions.

Talking about the system he plans to employ in Adamson, he remains adamant until he sees the complete Soaring Falcon arsenal. However, he assured the team’s competitiveness and his signature high-octane playstyle.

“[My teams] would always fight and do their best every time on the floor. In college, it’s always focused on the team; it should be a running team because it really brings a lot of excitement, especially to UAAP viewers,” he said, pointing out his old Tamaraws team, and his seemingly unlimited supply of quick and savvy guards.

“[We want] to emphasize team play and ball movement, and establish a really good defensive team, anchored on Lenda,” he continued.

Racela vs Racela

Now, getting his feet wet again with UAAP waters, Coach Nash will be facing an extremely familiar foe – his older brother and former coaching partner in Morayta, Olsen Racela.

He revealed that initially, coaching against or even leaving his Kuya in FEU did not cross his mind, but both eventually had to take their separate paths.

“I really felt we weren’t ready as brothers to compete against each other back then, and I really felt that he probably needed my help, being a consultant or assistant in FEU,” Coach Nash explained.

However, this time, both Racelas saw the Adamson coaching tilt as an excellent opportunity.

“[T]he good thing about this year is that when I mentioned to [Olsen] that Adamson is interested in me, hindi ko naramdaman na parang nag-hold back sya. Sabi nya, “Okay, that’s good,” kumbaga, it’s a signal that he was ready for us, in a way, to part ways. It’s exciting, I guess, to see a Racela vs Racela in the UAAP,” the younger Racela quipped.

While the brothers ended up in the same career in basketball, both took different paths in achieving their present post.

Unlike Olsen who continued his playing career from Ateneo High (AHS) to Ateneo de Manila, and eventually to being a PBA Great, his younger brother transferred to De La Salle after playing for AHS and was just looking to graduate from college and live his life.

Nevertheless, as they say, ball is life, and this is true for Coach Nash.

“Not many people who transfer schools then succeed in basketball, so my goal was really to graduate, which I did, then I started to work in corporate for a couple of years and then, again, as part of God’s plan, He brought me back to basketball, and as early as 1998, I was already coaching,” he explained.

He also admitted that although he has been coaching since his mid-20s and already has more than 20 years of experience under his belt, his Kuya Olsen still has more experience as a player, which the latter applies in his own coaching stint.

The UAAP has already allowed its member schools to conduct bubble trainings, however, Season 84 remains uncertain. But as the coast gets clearer, one thing is for sure: the Falcons of San Marcelino will be ready to soar.