CHICO Manabat has been promoted as head coach of UCBL power Centro Escolar University Scorpions.
The 41-year-old Manabat gets to handle his first team in the seniors level, replacing his longtime coaching partner Jeff Napa.
"Syempre natuwa ako kasi big bro ko siya e. Sabi niya sa akin, 'It's time na lumabas ka sa pagiging Robin mo. Ni-recommend kita sa mga bosses ng CEU.' Natuwa naman ako na tinanggap ako ng mga boss sa CEU. Syempre bata pa ako sa situation na ganito, pero matanda na ko sa mga pinagdaanan namin ni coach Jeff," he said.
Manabat has worked with Jeff Napa at National University-Nazareth School where they won three UAAP juniors championships.
He also followed Napa in Letran and was the lead assistant in CEU. He also served as head coach of the Bullpups in UAAP Season 79 in 2016, where they finished as runner-up to FEU-Diliman.
Aside from that, the husband of volleyball star Dindin Santiago-Manabat was recently given the reins to handle the Grace Christian College basketball program this year.
Now, it's a different endeavor as Manabat inherits a rebuilding CEU program in the UCBL.
"Yung opportunity na binigay sa akin ni coach Jeff, Boss JJ (Yap), at Boss Jepet (Plaza), yun ang nagiging motivation ko ngayon. Yung pressure nandyan na yan. Na-train na rin naman ako ni Jeff. Sabi nga niya, hiwalay na si Batman and Robin. Kailangan ng magsarili ni Robin," he said.
For his part, Napa is elated to see Manabat get this break saying, "Sobrang laki ng tiwala ko kay coach Chico. Confident ako na kaya niyang gampanan yung binigay sa kanya na opportunity na ito."
"Sobrang excited ako para sa best friend ko. Hindi lang best friend, brother from another mother ko si coach Chico. Happy ako na nag-level up na siya to being a head coach."
Joining Manabat in the CEU coaching staff are John Necesito, Max Encilla and Roy Billanes.
The Scorpions won the NCRAA title last season and made it to the semifinals of the UCBL tournament, but saw big changes in the offseason, from Senegalese center Maodo Malick Diouf transferring to University of the Philippines to coach Derrick Pumaren accepting the head coaching post in La Salle.
Manabat sais he is excited to work with the young crew led by Franz Diaz, Dave Bernabe and Jerome Santos.
"Yung naabutan namin na team, bata talaga. Nakakuha rin naman kami ng player na nahawakan ko na dati like dating Bullpups at Team B namin sa NU na gusto ng break. Wala rin kaming foreign student-athlete din ngayon pero we are working on it," he said. "Ang sabi ng bosses, i-develop ko muna yung mga players. Yun muna yung immediate goal namin ngayon. Focus sa development and sa aral."