Olsen Racela
Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws head coach Olsen Racela shouts instructions from the sidelines during a University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) game in 2017. Interaksyon/Philstar.com


  • Tab Baldwin has produced international success as head coach with a core of mainly college players
  • Olsen Racela has expressed his thoughts about helping lead such a program
  • Filipino collegiate hoops stars have been signed to international pro deals

The Philippines again made waves on the international basketball scene after local collegiate team Ateneo de Manila University went undefeated in three games to win the inaugural World University Basketball Series title headed by coach Tab Baldwin.

Many Filipino fans have been clamoring for Baldwin to be reinstated as national team head coach and for current coach Chot Reyes to step down after failing to deliver wins on the world stage, including a disappointing silver medal finish in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games.

Baldwin's success on the international stage reached its highest point thus far after the country's governing body for basketball, the "Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas" (Basketball Association of the Philippines), selected the Ateneo Blue Eagles for the 2018 William Jones Cup.

They went on to finish fourth in the tournament as they posted a record of 5-3 and went on to don the national team uniform alongside other cagers from the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) during the 2021 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).

With how great the young guns have performed on the international level, Filipinos could not help but dream about the potential of forming a team composed of their best players from the UAAP and the Philippines' NCAA led by Baldwin.

Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws head coach and former Ateneo player Olsen Racela spoke with the International Business Times about this possibility and the ramifications it could have if international competition overlaps with the local scene's basketball calendar.

"Well, for the middle of the season, that's something that the UAAP board and NCAA board will have to talk about," Racela said to open his statement.

"But ever since, FEU has been open to the idea of sending players. In fact, we are the ones offering them [to the national team] if they would want. Rhon Jhay [Abarrientos] was not the only player we made available even then."

Racela was referring to the selection of 5'11" guard Rhon Jhay Abarrientos to the aforementioned 2021 FIBA OQT team as he provided the group with an important spark off the bench.

Abarrientos has since decided to make the jump to the pros after being offered to play for the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis in the Korean Basketball League.

Racela, 51, has since moved on from his former ward's exit and is set to prepare his retooled squad for the upcoming 85th season of the UAAP by competing in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.

Circling back to the hypothetical all-collegiate all-star team, Racela added that FEU is more than happy to contribute to international glory.

"We're open to that, as well as our coaching staff. If they will need help or if they think I can help contribute on an international level, again, FEU is always open to that. We are always willing to help the cause of our national team," he mentioned.

The local collegiate hoops scene has shown that it can produce cagers that can play at a high level after a select few were signed to pro deals abroad.

Only time will tell whether the Philippines' governing basketball body will entertain this idea and give Baldwin, alongside the best collegiate coaches, a shot at crafting such a program.

Olsen Racela
Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws head coach Olsen Racela gives his final instructions during a University Athletics Association of the Philippines game. The UAAP/Facebook