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Olsen welcomes pressure

By: Jerome Lagunzad

New Far Eastern University coach Olsen Racela has all the reasons to do well on his collegiate coaching debut since he inherited a good, sound basketball program established by his younger brother Nash in the last four years.

However, that could only mean added pressure – and motivation at the same time – as the Tamaraws brace themselves for another title campaign in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tourney that gets going this weekend at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“There’s always pressure but I welcome it,” said Olsen Racela.

With the graduation of hardworking big man Raymar Jose and Monbert Arong plus the exit of Holmqvist brothers – Ken and Steve – in the off-season, the Tamaraws are expecting former Ateneo standouts Arvin Tolentino and Hubert Cani, Southwestern University transferee Jasper Parker and touted recruit, Fil-Canadian RJ Ramirez, to make an immediate impact.

“Just like any FEU team in the past, we will be very competitive this year,” said Racela, 46, who will also have the likes of key holdovers Wendell Comboy, Jojo Trinidad, Axel Inigo, Richard Escoto and Cameroon big man Prince Orizu in the fold.

For sure, Olsen has a tough work cut out for him, most especially in trying to duplicate – or even surpass – the success achieved by Nash who steered FEU back to the Promised Land at the expense of University of Santo Tomas in 2015.

“Maganda ‘yung ginawa ni coach Nash, but I’m just here to continue the program,” said Olsen. “Ang focus namin is the process. If it brings us championships, well and good. But for now, ‘yung focus is the process and the information ng mga bata.”

UST’s second-year coach Boy Sablan is also hoping to do the same – and more – for the Growling Tigers who ended up at the tail-end of the eight-team field during his initial stint at the helm last season.

With a longer time of preparations and the addition of underrated transferees like Carlos Escalambre and Christian Garcia from Adamson and Jordan Sta. Ana from University of the East, Sablan is confident UST is bound to perform better despite the absence of Embons Bonleon and Renzo Subido. “Kung ano man ang nawala sa team, kayang-kaya punan ng mga natira at pinasok ko ngayon,” said the Tigers coach.

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