CEBU CITY – Britt Reroma is out as coach of the University of San Carlos (USC) Warriors a little over a month after leading the team to its first title in 54 years - the latest and most stunning development in a whirlwind of events surrounding the team and its coach.
Reroma left the team shortly after their title conquest in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) to coach the Sarawak Eagles in the Agong Cup tournament in Bintulu, Malaysia.
He only came back recently, thus leaving school management with no choice but to find a replacement with the Warriors set to battle the nation’s best collegiate basketball squads in the Elite Eight of the 2015 Philippine Collegiate Champions League next week.
USC athletic director Fr. Adriano Ocariza, SVD, shared to Spin.ph that he has tapped assistant coach Bong Abad to be the interim head coach with former pro Teroy Albarillo backing him up.
“Initially, I was under the impression that Coach Britt (Reroma) would be gone for just a week or so but I eventually learned that that would not be the case,” said Ocariza, who also bared that both Abad and Albarillo were contemplating resigning from the squad because there was no proper delegation of official duties before Reroma left.
"When I found out that he wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon, I was in panic. I had to make a decision to save the team," Ocariza added.
“So I had to talk to the school alumni to negotiate with both Bong (Abad) and Teroy (Albarillo) and fortunately, we convinced them to stay not just for the PCCL but also for the PRISAA meet. Bong will be the head coach until March 31.”
With just days before the Elite Eight, the Warriors have been going full blast with their preparations, welcoming back Congolese Espoir Toyambi to their lineup and adding Lucky Ecarma to replace the injured Ian Bensig.
Team manager Joboy Tuason reported that the team has adjusted well to their new head coach, but not after weeks of transition.
“They’re doing okay. Of course, the first couple of weeks after the championship were a bit weird for everybody with all the sudden uncertainties but it’s been three weeks already since Coach Bong took over and they’ve adjusted pretty well.”
It was an assessment echoed by team skipper Nico Magat who told Spin.ph that the team was basically just using the same system, so nothing much has changed regarding the team’s dynamics.
Though the loss of Reroma is a big blow to USC, Abad is no slouch. The former PBA pro suited up for San Miguel in 1993, although his pro career only lasted six games.
The Barili-native reverted to amateur status and played for Casino Rubbing Alcohol in the defunct Philippine Basketball League. He has since used his basketball talent to coach school and commercial teams in Cebu and Mindanao, once leading the Misamis Oriental Meteors in the also-disbanded Mindanao-Visayas Basketball Association.
Meanwhile, Reroma expressed nothing but respect for the school’s decision.
“I am always a good soldier. Whatever the decision of the school I will just follow and obey,” he said.