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Olsen Racela’s message to PBA hopefuls: Never give up on your dream
piece and photo by rick olivares
There are currently 64 applicants who will be taking part in the annual Philippine Basketball Association Rookie Draft this Sunday at Robinson’s Malate. There aren’t many slots available on the 12 different PBA teams but that isn’t going to deter any of them from pursuing their pro basketball dreams.
“It is unfortunate that there aren’t many spots or even teams to accommodate everybody,” said former San Miguel guard Olsen Racela who is now an assistant coach with Barangay Ginebra. “But that is how it is.”
“Most teams more or less have an idea of who they want to draft,” shared Racela. “But the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine is an excellent opportunity for all applicants to show what they can do. Are there those who fly in under the radar? Plenty. There was Brian Heruela who was drafted 26th overall last year. And now he’s doing a great job with Barako Bull. In this camp, Nico Elorde is one. You can see he is a leader on the court. If you’re lucky to have good teammates it helps. This is a guard-forward heavy draft and some of the teams have an imbalance in the lineup. Yung iba tatlong point guard minsan so that makes it difficult for them to show their best. Elorde is the only point guard in his team (during the scrimmage) so he can run the offense properly."
The two-rookie camp at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City saw several PBA head coaches in attendance. There was Tim Cone of Ginebra, Leo Austria of SMB, Pido Jarencio of GlobalPort, and Leo Isaac of Blackwater. Assistants from the rest of the league were likewise in attendance.
“After these two days, before the draft, many will get invited for workouts with the different teams outside this camp so that is good. However, because there aren’t many spots open for the different teams even if one isn’t drafted that doesn’t mean he should give up.”
Racela cited former SMB teammate Siot Tanquincen was never drafted (in 1995).
Tanquincen who was one of two players who went undrafted in 1995 yet several months later was able to land a spot on Sunkist Orange for a couple of seasons before joining the Beermen in 1997. He later joined college coach Aric Del Rosario with the Pampanga Dragons in the now defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association after which he took over the head coaching position of Ginebra in 2004.
"Because of his persistence and hard work, Siot was able to get a spot with San Miguel. Coach Ron Jacobs was looking for a back up point guard who possessed very good character. You see in the draft, many of these players were starters or players who got heavy minutes. But it is different in the pros. Sometimes, it is like starting over again. You don’t always get minutes or even playing time. How do you handle that? Siot never complained if he played or not. He would make it hard for the starters during practices and that helps the team by playing that role."
“If you look at Heruela, after the draft, he went back to the D-League yet after only a few games was called up and he gave it his best and now he’s one of the bright young stars in the PBA. So players must never give up. It is part of the challenge. And mas masarap when your hardwork and persistence pays off with a long term contract and the chance to play and be a part of a championship team."