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Coaching debut excites Yuri

Yuri Escueta is excited over his first ever head coaching stint when San Beda University competes in Season 98 National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament this weekend.

The 37-year-old Escueta said he was assessed and given pointers by his cousins — Adamson coach Nash Racela and Far Eastern University mentor Olsen Racela — on what to expect calling the shots at the collegiate level.

And so far, he’s doing great.

“It’s less of an advice, but more of them telling me that I know what needs to be done. Coach Olsen even said that I became a coach earlier than he was,” said Escueta, whose wards faced the Falcons and the Tamaraws in friendly duels last week.

“It was good because we were able to play against Final Four teams in the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines).”

Coaching runs in Escueta’s blood.

Olsen led the Tamaraws into the Final Four of UAAP Season 84 while Nash steered FEU to the 2015 title but missed the semifinals in his first year as Falcons’ tactician.

Hired only last June, Escueta is tipped to bring the coaching savvy he gained from assisting elite coaches like Chot Reyes and Tab Baldwin into the Red Lions, who are looking to roar after losing the title to Letran College in the past two seasons.

The Red Lions will open their campaign against Season 97 finalist Mapua University on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Escueta said they want to play like a cohesive unit and worry less about their individual performances.

“More than individual players to step up, it’s more on the team,” said Escueta, who will bank on young guns Jacob Cortez and Justin Sanchez following the absence of injured JV Gallego and Rhayyan Amsali.

“I’m not worried about the individual performances of the players since we have a system to follow in San Beda.”

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