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PBA: Paranoia gives Nash the edge

Nash Racela finally got a taste of coaching a PBA finals game last night, perhaps carrying with him the mentality that made him the leader of one of the pro league’s premier franchises.

“Medyo praning kasi ako sa mga tao,” Racela said Monday, further embracing a “Me Against the World” reputation he was known during his days as a UAAP champion coach for Far Eastern University.

“I always think that people favor other teams or one group, and sometimes when people tell me something, it’s because they want to send me some message.”

Paranoia has perhaps brought the best out of the 45-year-old brother of PBA legend Olsen Racela, reason why the KaTropa are in a best-of-seven series with the San Miguel Beermen for the Commissioner’s Cup title in just his second conference.

After spoiling what could be a dream Ateneo-La Salle title showdown in the UAAP, Racela did it again by foiling a second straight all-San Miguel showdown after steering the KaTropa past the top seeded Ginebra Kings.

But beating the revered Tim Cone of Ginebra was perhaps more important than that.

So the title clash is now between the flagship teams of San Miguel Corporation and telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan.

“It’s just like playing Ateneo and La Salle, and you’re FEU. You play Ginebra and San Miguel, it’s the same thing.

People expect them to be there, people want them to be there. You’re against everything, but it’s still doable,” said Racela, who at first had to find the right mixture for his team composed of fresh blood and battle-tested veterans.

He was hired late last year to bring TNT back to its glory days.

TNT was a dominant force under Chot Reyes in the early part of the decade.

His dilemma was whether to have a youth movement focused on the likes of Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, among others, or maintain the roles of Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo and Kelly Williams as TNT cornerstones.

The transition may not be that smooth, but the KaTropa are in a position to regain lost glory.

“We went to a big transition with our head coach from coach Jong (Uichico) to coach Nash (Racela). He’s done a great job of getting the guys on the same page and his vision for the team,” said Williams, one of the veterans who flourished for TNT during the semis series against Ginebra.