TAIPEI, Taiwan - If you would believe his former coaches, Jong Uichico and Chot Reyes, Olsen Racela, who was named as coach of Petron Blaze, will be as brilliant and successful as he was as a player.
The former San Miguel Beer (now Petron) star has been installed as Petron coach, replacing Ato Agustin. He is in Mongolia at the moment where he's calling the shots for Energen Pilipinas under-18 squad, which is competing in a FIBA-Asia tournament.
"He deserves it, he has the knowledge being a former point guard, all he needs is experience," said Uichico, who won six of his eight PBA titles with San Miguel with Racela as his starting guard.
Uichico, who is one of Reyes' assistants with Smart Gilas II, added that with Racela's vast experience Petron will be in good hands.
"I just hope the management (Petron) will give him the chance, all he needs is a break," added Uichico of the well-decorated guard from Ateneo who rose from a mere backup to become one of PBA's premier guards of all time.
Like Uichico, Reyes is likewise proud of Racela's appointment.
"I'm very proud of him, he will do a very good job," Reyes. "We've gone a long way since his high school and college days."
Reyes also recalled that it was him who drafted Racela when he was still coaching Purefoods (Now B-Meg).
"That time, he was our third guard in the rotation because we still have Dindo (Punaren) and Frankie (Lim) then but I know he has the talent to become a starter," added Reyes.
Initially, former Gilas coach Rajko Toroman was being floated to handle Petron but the management eventually picked Racela to handle the team as a reward for helping San Miguel win so many championships.
Racela, a member of the 1998 Philippine team that won the Jones Cup here, will take over from Ato Agustin who was reportedly blamed for the team's lackluster showing this season where they failed to defend their Governors' Cup won by Rain or Shine.
After winning the Governors' Cup last year, Petron blew away a 3-1 lead in its best-of-seven semis series with Talk 'N Text in the All-Filipino Cup this year. Then came its worst finish in years by placing 9th the following conference won by sister team B-Meg.