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Salamat, Captain Olsen

Bidding farewell to a Philippine basketball treasure
by Mikey Agulto | Jan 31, 2011
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San Miguel Beermen veteran guard Olsen Racela is no more than four games away from retiring, all of which could very well be the four most important games of his career.

His team is duking it out with Talk N' Text Tropang Texters in the ongoing PBA Championship; San Miguel currently ties the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters with 2 games won apiece. It is a close series credited to the Beermen’s efforts to bring their captain the title they so promised him right before the current PBA season began.

In the day and age of Fil-Ams and balikbayans, Racela is one of the few respected,erm, elders of the league. But Olsen, we would assume, has the rare privilege of fencing on the right side of 40. He for one has enjoyed a very lengthy basketball career, one that has not been hampered by injuries. No potentials were derailed, whatsoever. He’s got a career coming to a close with no what-ifs and what-nots to ponder about when all is said and done.

He went in, did his minutes, and as manifestly seen in every Beermen game he’s been in all these years, the man simply played his heart out. He made it no secret of his tendency to get very emotional during games, but Olsen has always been a very intense and critical player, easily coming to a point of being respectable.

This very persona catapulted Olsen to Senior Statesman Status, and more – a number of conference titles, 5-time PBA all-star, 4 mythical first team inclusions, and several stints in the Philippine national team. All this and Racela remains a very hungry cager. “Kulang pa ng isa, coach,” he tells Ato Agustin after the Beermen coach cited Olsen’s long-time familiarity in playing for championship games.

Others would ponder and wonder what’s in store for them mid-life, but Olsen has his figured out the moment he was made captain of the team. He’s giving himself one last shot at playing for a title before hanging his sneakers for good and perhaps end up on the San Miguel coaching staff sooner or later, where his fighting spirit is certainly a hand-in-glove fit for the club. Olsen is also set to coach the country’s 16-and-under national team this year. So yeah, life at 40 seems alright.

Today, we’ve been given the dispensation of witnessing a dream closing in the making. That is, if they manage to outdo Chot Reyes and the Tropang Texters in the next few games. Having a former high school coach and a brother on the opposing team’s coaching staff make the final few games even more grandeur for the 18-year veteran, which is why his aspirations to end his career with a much-deserved championship has never been higher.

Champion or not, Olsen, we salute the generation defining genius that is your career. Here’s to hoping you remain a Beermen, sitting courtside and wearing a tie alongside Ato.

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