The time has come for Olsen Racela, one of the most cerebral point guards the PBA ever had, to hang up his sneakers. His playing career is now over as he retires after 18 long years in the pro league.

Olsen Racela

From scrubs to stardom. From a practice player to a hall of famer. That perhaps sums up Olsen’s storied career. And his play-making skills and basketball smarts and leadership will be a tough act to follow.

I became a Beermen fan in the late 1990s, just around the time when Ron Jacobs assembled a rag team built around Nelson “The Bull” Asaytono. Coach Ron took Olsen, who was then a second tier point guard of Purefoods, to the San Miguel lineup and made him SMB’s main back court general. That marked a huge leap in Olsen’s career as his game flourished under Coach Ron’s system. Olsen showed everyone that he had what it takes to lead a team.

Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle then came into the SMB fold and together with Olsen, they built a dynasty in the late 1990s up to early 2000s. It was truly a delight for an SMB fan like me to watch Olsen, who was at his prime that time, leading the way for the two young Danny’s and the rest of the Beermen. Nakakamiss!

However, many people remember him as the player who muffed two crucial free throws during the semifinals game of the Philippines vs South Korea in the 2002 Asian Games. And they may continuously harp about it. But these people probably are those who just want to see and highlight the setbacks in Olsen’s career. Those were indeed heartbreaking but if it weren’t for Olsen who rallied the team from a deficit, the Philippines might not have been in that position after all.

Sure he was no longer the main point guard/back court general for the Beermen during the twilight of his career as he usually came off the bench. But he gladly accepted that role. Once inserted into the game, he was there providing the stability and energy the team needed. He was willingly diving for loose balls, forcing opponents to commit turnovers, and making hustle plays at any point of the game. Just like this:

And he was doing these kinds of plays at what, age 40? Classic indeed!

It was just very sad to see Olsen go without a championship ring as SMB was defeated by Talk ‘N Text in the 2010-2011 All Filipino Cup – Olsen’s last conference. It would have been a poetic send-off for the man. But all is not lost; Olsen does not have anything else to prove. He would still go down as the player whom other point guards look up to, and the Beerman every SMB fan will forever love.

Cheers to Cap. Olsen Racela:  A Beerman who has always been magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat. A true gentleman on and off the court. He will surely be missed.