THERE'S a familiar face in the Chadao-FEU bench when it opened its 2019 PBA D-League campaign against SMDC-NU on Monday.
No, we're not talking about Nash Racela who is back in the Tamaraws fold as the team's first assistant.
Rather, it's Denok Miranda who is lending another voice to head coach Olsen Racela's team as the FEU legend is now part of the staff for the seniors' team, together with Eric Gonzales, Ryan Betia, and Jonathan de Guzman.
The 36-year-old fully understands how he has come in full circle in Morayta more than a decade since he last wore those familiar green-and-gold threads.
"Syempre, giving back," he said with a smile.
Miranda said that he has been wanting to help the men's basketball program as early as 2014, but his PBA career has made those plans difficult for him.
"Si boss Anton (Montinola), ni-require niya talaga ko na mag-report sa FEU. Naglalaro pa ako sa PBA noon kaya hindi pa ako makafocus sa kanila," he said.
But with him now out of the pro league and seeing action with Laguna Heroes in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), Miranda said that he now has the time to fulfill what he desired to do for so long which is to help his alma mater.
The two-time UAAP champion has been working with coach Allan Albano with the Baby Tamaraws in the juniors' team for the past season, and now, is formally a part of Racela's staff with the Tamaraws for this PBA D-League foray and later on, in the UAAP seniors' cage wars.
In his short time with the team, Miranda has already made a difference as he serves as a mentor for Alec Stockton and L-Jay Gonzales in easing those guards settle in to their bigger roles, one which he is all too familiar of fulfilling back in his heyday.
"Mayroon na akong nakitang improvement sa mga guards lalo na dito kay L-Jay and Stockton kasi sila ang mga tinututukan ko eh," he said. "Meron lang akong extra reminders at extra push sa kanila, tsaka nagfofocus naman kami sa depensa eh. Yung opensa, to follow na yun."
But their hardwork is already bearing fruit, with the two guards' stupendous performance in Chadao-FEU's 84-62 victory over SMDC-NU.
Stockton ignited the rout with seven of his 15 points coming in the first quarter assault, to go with three assists and two rebounds. Gonzales, meanwhile, chipped in 12 points, three boards, and three assists in the win.
With Miranda now embracing his new endeavor as a coach, he only hopes one thing for his proteges.
"Sana maging consistent sila kasi syempre consistent din ako magturo sa kanila. Everyday din kami nagkikita, so sana ma-grab nila yung dati kong ginagawa sa FEU nung naglalaro pa ako," he said.