MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Nash Racela is officially making a return to collegiate basketball.
Adamson University on Wednesday announced that it is hiring Racela as the new head coach of the Soaring Falcons.
"His excellent track record in the collegiate and professional ranks were indeed considered," Adamson's athletic director, Fr. Aldrin Suan, CM, said in a memorandum addressed to the university community.
"However, the main telling point is that his fatherly and gentle demeanor and coaching style fits the direction that we want for our men's basketball program," he added.
Racela will be joined by Rommel Adducul, Ryan Betia, Ed Lorenz dela Torre, Gilbert Lao, Benjamin Sipin III, and Baby Falcons head coach Mike Fermin in his coaching staff.
Fermin had taken charge of the Soaring Falcons in the interim, after former coach Franz Pumaren did not renew his contract with the university in February 2021 in order to focus on his political career.
Racela last coached in the UAAP in 2016, when he led Far Eastern University to the Final 4. In the previous year, he led the Tamaraws to the Season 78 championship.
He went on to coach TNT and Blackwater in the PBA, before being let go by the Bossing after a historically poor campaign in the 2021 Philippine Cup.
In his return to the UAAP, Racela assured that the Soaring Falcons "will give our best and we will compete for sure every single game, every single season."
"Hopefully, by developing the right people, we would also achieve what every school dreams of. I don’t really want to mention, but again, I’m not a believer in claiming wins and championships, yet, that’s really the ultimate goal. Everything will fall into place as long as we do our part," Racela said in an interview with Adamson News.
The Soaring Falcons have not won a UAAP title since the 1977-78 season. They made the Final Four in three of Pumaren's four seasons in charge, but slumped to a sixth place finish in Season 82.
Racela takes over an Adamson team that has lost its main gun Jerrick Ahanmisi to the PBA, as well as high-scoring guard Val Chauca and forward Simon Camacho.
He will still have veteran point guard Jerom Lastimosa, young forward AP Manlapaz, as well as foreign student-athlete Lenda Douanga. Adamson has also recruited Joaquin Jaymalin, Roger Syvles delos Reyes and Adrian Punzalan.
"We want to emphasize team play and ball movement, and establish a really good defensive team, anchored on Lenda," Racela said of the system he wants to implement with the Soaring Falcons.
According to Adamson News, Racela has yet to meet with the Soaring Falcons. However, the Commission on Higher Education has already allowed the resumption of training for collegiate teams.
The UAAP has previously said that it intends to open its 84th season in early 2022, after cancelling Season 83 in its entirety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.