MANILA, Philippines – TNT head coach Nash Racela knows that the KaTropa will be at a disadvantage as far as championship experience is concerned when they face off against the San Miguel Beermen in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals.
After all, only six of the players in his roster have ever played in a PBA Finals before, and Racela himself is a rookie head coach in the professional ranks. In contrast, virtually every San Miguel player is a championship veteran. Their core has won four PBA titles together, including this season's All-Filipino Cup.
"That, of course, could work for them," Racela said Monday of the discrepancy when it comes to championship experience.
"But at the same time, it could also work for us," he suggested. "Because minsan, 'yung challenges bring out the best in everybody."
Racela does not think that nerves or jitters will be much of a factor in the Finals, as he is confident that his players will instead seize the moment and perform at a high level.
"I've always believed na when you are given a first-time opportunity, 'yung best mo comes out," he said.
"And I think it's the same thing with me," he added. "It will be my first time coaching in a championship game in the PBA as a head coach."
"This is a great opportunity for me, and I want to give of course my best for the team."
Racela may be a rookie head coach in the PBA, but he is not lacking for experience as a coach. He was an assistant coach for the TNT franchise for nine seasons, and was the head coach of Far Eastern University in the UAAP. In 2015, he coached the Tamaraws to the Season 78 championship.
Indeed, San Miguel mentor Leo Austria is the first to say that he does not consider Racela a rookie coach.
"I've known him for a long time," said Austria of Racela. "He's coached a lot of teams, and he's exposed to international competitions. He is in the national team."
"He really can coach," Austria stressed.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven Finals is on Wednesday, with both teams eyeing the early lead in the series.
"It's always important," Racela said of winning Game 1. "People talk about the first win in a series. I'm sure San Miguel is chasing that, and we will also chase for that first win."
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