Nash Racela tasked to coach Gilas Cadet in SEABA

Nash Racela isn’t expecting a walk-in-the-park when the Gilas cadet competes against its regional rivals in the 2016 South East Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Cup from May 22 to 27 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Racela, who was recently named as the cadet team’s head coach, admitted that the SEABA Cup, which will serve as the qualifying event for the FIBA Asia Challenge this September in Iran, will be tough due to the vast improvement the host nation and Indonesia has shown in recent years.

“Mahirap din, kasi the last couple of years, we’ve seen that other countries have started catching up on us kaya yung maikling preparation won’t actually help,” Racela told FOX Sports on Saturday.

Racela said he expects Tropang TNT rookie big men Troy Rosario and Moala Tautuaa to bring size for the Gilas cadet side, which will also be bannered by SEA Games veterans led by Mac Belo, Russell Escoto and Roger Pogoy, all members of the 2015 UAAP men’s champion Far Eastern University, along with University of Santo Tomas star Kevin Ferrer and Arellano Chiefs playmaker Jiovani Jalalon.

Rosario is no stranger to the Southeast Asian competition, having starred for the Gilas cadet squad, which beat Indonesia, 72-64 for the gold in last year’s SEA Games basketball competition in Singapore.

Tautuaa, on the other hand, represented the country via the Gilas men’s team in the 2015 William Jones Cup where the PH squad captured 2nd place behind Iran in Taiwan.

“Mo will definitely be a big help because we don’t have bigs in the lineup, except for Russell in the list that was placed in the 24-man pool,” explained Racela, who also serves as 1 of Gilas men’s coach Tab Baldwin’s assistants.

Racela admitted that the Gilas cadet roster for the SEABA Cup has yet to be finalized, but he hopes to get a better look at the composition once they start practice this coming week.

“Sa ngayon, it all depends on the schedule and availability of everyone, but again, lagi naman na ang objective natin is to be no. 1,” he added.

Racela also stressed the need to play up-tempo, while putting premium on defense, aware that rivals Thailand, Indonesia and even Singapore have showed progress in the sport the Filipinos have virtually dominated over the past 2 decades. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava