YOU can’t put a good basketball coach down.
Just three weeks since stepping down as KIA mentor in the PBA, Chris Gavina found himself back doing what he loves best after being tap to handle Valenzuela in the inaugural season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
The call came in a huff, according to Gavina, as he took over the team only last week and had just practiced with the Classic the past four to five days prior to the opening of the home-and-away league this Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
But for someone who had gone through a lot being at the helm of a KIA team that had been in the news for the past several months and for the wrong reasons, the New Jersey-raised Fil-Am coach is more than willing to accept the challenge.
“I’m a big-time competitor and I just cannot stay away from the game too long,” Gavina, 38, said on Monday at Annabel’s in Morato during the official launch of the league, a brainchild of boxing great and Senator Manny Pacquiao.
“And I just felt like I really wanted to get back into a position where I could nurture talent again in my own way, and be in a position where I could create a championship culture for Valenzuela.”
Gavina served as the lead deputy of Pacquiao at KIA, of which he later became full-time coach when the franchise finally parted ways with their celebrated playing-coach.
But just two games into his job in the Philippine Cup, Gavina, who graduated with a chemical biology degree at Stevens Institute of Technology, resigned from his post and was replaced by Ricky Dandan.
According to KIA’s official statement, Gavina decided to take time away from coaching to concentrate on the production and marketing of his IMPAKT power drink.
But the hiatus didn’t last long.
The team manager of Valenzuela happened to be a good friend of Gavina that it didn’t take long for him to be offered the coaching job.
“He’s from New York, I’m from (New) Jersey. I used to beat his team a lot whenever we played back home,” he said with a laugh.
Of course, the MPBL is going to be an entirely different experience to his stint in the pro league.
“The major difference is that you have more established players in the PBA, a greater deal of talent level and skills set,” said Gavina.
“But since I took over, I’ve seen a tremendous spirit in our guys. They wanna be coached, and they wanna improve. I hope I’ll be able to share with them something which can comprise into a winning mentality and culture in Valenzuela.”
Ex-PBA player Paolo Hubalde and Rocky Acidre are among the players suiting up for the Classic.