Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Introduction for Olsen Racela during his induction at the Ateneo Sports Hall of Fame

A few months ago, Albert Mendoza, who is a batch behind me and who played center on Ateneo's first two UAAP champion teams (1987 and 88) asked me if I could pen the intro for Olsen Racela for the 2012 Ateneo Sports Hall of Fame ceremony (tonight at the Ricardo Leong Hall in Ateneo). I first met Olsen who was my brother's classmate while dropping by their classroom. They were hanging outside their classroom gabbing about stuff. The next time I saw him was when he was playing with Danny Francisco in the juniors division where they just flat out killed everyone. I never really got to know Olsen until years later when I first began my sportswriting career by following our Blue Eagles. And I think since then, we've become friends. I had even back then followed his career closely and became a fan. I do not have too many original PBA jerseys but I do have an Olsen Racela San Miguel jersey. That one goes into my personal Hall of Fame collection.

Here's the intro that I penned (keep in mind that this was written a few months ago and there have been quite a few changes such Olsen being named head coach of Petron and his giving up the RP Youth team in the process so if the ASHOF committee updated it then I wouldn't know):

Olsen Racela is proof that you should never judge a basketball player by his jumpshot.

Racela had one of the most unorthodox jumpshots ever where he’d hold the ball to the side of his head with both hands positioning the leather as if he were about to heave it. It wasn’t pretty and so were the results. But he could drive to the rack and finish not to mention drop some serious assists.

In a team teeming with all-stars that won two consecutive UAAP Men’s Basketball titles (they could have won a third straight as well had everyone remained in place but that is another story), Racela didn’t seem like he was the most likely to succeed.

Only he did and is the most successful Atenean to play in the PBA. In addition to his 1986 UAAP Juniors title and the two Seniors crowns, he had three podium finishes with the national team.

He played for only two ballclubs during his 18 years in the PBA – Purefoods and San Miguel where he won nine championships. If he wasn’t acquired by the great Ron Jacobs to man the Beermen’s backcourt during its rebuilding phase, Racela in all likelihood would have remained with Purefoods that drafted him out of the amateurs. That’s loyalty for you. Something he learned during his school days at the Ateneo.

Yet in spite of all his professional accomplishments, what would beggar the imagination is how Racela’s shooting – both his jumpshot and free throw shot – became a lethal weapon for San Miguel (aside from his terrific quarterbacking). The man turned himself not only into a better shooter but a dependable one.

And just when you think that we’ve pegged Olsen into a round hole, he’s now a budding coach. He currently serves as an assistant to Petron (what San Miguel is now called) and the RP Youth Team for which he once starred. It’s a matter of time before he works his magic there too.

You still want to underestimate him?

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