FOR Louie Alas, there’s no more turning back.
The soft-spoken coach finally ended more than a decade of association with Letran after his resignation was formally approved - reportedly with a heavy heart - by the school higher-ups led by president Fr. Tamerlane Lana.
Alas’ resignation will be effective December 31 to give the team enough time to scout for possible replacement. Between now and that date, the Knights will be handled by assistant coaches Kris Reyes and Tino Pinat.
“Hard habit to break, pare,” said Alas, his voice cracking a little bit over the phone as he spoke to Spin.ph on Monday night. “Mas masakit na umalis ka kaysa natalo ka.”
Alas’ formal resignation with Letran only heightened reports that he is among the likely candidates to become the next coach of five-time reigning UAAP men’s basketball champion Ateneo.
Alas, 49, remained mum about the matter, although sources within the Blue Eagles side confirmed an interview is already being arranged for the multi-titled coach amid the search for Norman Black's replacement.
Aside from Alas, also included in Ateneo’s list of candidates are Alex Compton, a fellow assistant coach of Alas at Alaska, and current Adamson mentor Leo Austria.
Alas first announced his resignation moments after the Knights lost to San Beda, 67-39, in their winner-take-all showdown for the NCAA men’s title almost three weeks ago.
But he made it clear the 28-point blowout had nothing to do with his decision to leave the school he steered to three NCAA championships and five Finals appearances from 1998 until the present.
The one-time national mentor said his coach-player relationship with his two sons currently playing for the Knights – Kristoffer and star shooting guard Kevin Louie – factored a lot in his resolve to quit as Letran coach.
“For the past four years, I had been very hard on them. I wanted to treat everybody in the team equally, kaya hindi anak ang tingin ko sa kanila. Mabigat, and alam ko nahihirapan din naman sila,” he reasoned out.
Win or lose the title, Alas admitted he was bent on leaving the job.
For a while, Letran officials tried to talk him out of resigning, but the former tough guard out of Adamson said he already made the decision.
“Process by process ito. As early as the eliminations, nag-usap na kami ng asawa ko tungkol dito. Pero sabi niya bakit hindi mo na lang tapusin `yung buong season bago ka mag-desisyon,” Alas said.
One thing he’ll forever cherish, however, was the total support given him by the entire Letran community, from Fr. Lana, athletic director and Mancom chairman Fr. Vic Calvo, his players and coaching staff, the alumni, students, and faculty members.
“Wala akong masabi sa kanila, napaka-supportive sa akin. Bibigyan ka talaga nila ng blanket authority to call the shots for the team,” he added.
“Ideal place to coach ang Letran. Suwerte `yung susunod na magiging coach niyan.”