GIO Lasquety believes that winning as a head coach is more fulfilling compared to winning as a player after scoring a victory in his first game in charge of Jose Rizal University in the PBA D-League.
Just a few months ago, Lasquety was the playing assistant coach for JRU in NCAA Season 93. But head coach Vergel Meneses was so impressed that he decided to appoint the young tactician as the head coach in the team's campaign in the developmental league.
Lasquety did well in his debut, steering the Bombers past Mila’s Lechon on Thursday in the Aspirants Cup.
“Sobrang saya,” said Lasquety, who at 24 is the youngest coach among the 13 in the Aspirants Cup.
“Mas masarap kesa kapag naglalaro kasi ako ’ ‘yung nagga-guide sa kanila sa loob. Iba ‘yung feeling. Ako ‘yung nagpapapasok ng tao, gumagawa ng plays, gumagawa ng game plan.”
Lasquety admitted at first it felt awkward coaching his former teammates, a few of them older than him and some having PBA experience.
“Medyo meron talagang awkward feeling. Like si Pao (Pontejos), mas matanda sila sa akin. Nauna sila sa akin. Sometimes hindi ko sila mapasunod. Kailangan lang talaga i-respect na ako ’yung head coach na kailangan ko rin maging strict sa kanila na kahit naging teammates ko sila, dapat respect pa rin dahil ako ang head coach,” Lasquety said.
At the end of the day, professionalism reigns.
“Siyempre nandoon pa rin ‘yung biruan pero kung trabaho, nag-tatrabaho naman kami pare-parehas. Trabaho pa rin kami. Set aside ‘yung friends kami, tropa kami, teammates kami kasi pareho kaming nagtatrabaho. Parehas kami gustong manalo,” he said.
Lasquety said he is blessed to have the mind that, Meneses believes, is enough to become a coach.
“Siguro blessing lang dahil ako naman, simula nung naging player niya ako, sinusunod ko lang lagi ‘yung mga pinapagawa niya at ‘yung sistema namin, nakabisado ko na. Siguro naiintindihan ko kaya na-accept ko ‘yung ganung blessing sa akin. Nakita siguro ‘yun ni coach Vergel kaya tinutulungan niya ako,” said Lasquety.
Meneses was not around for Lasquety’s first game due to a commitment outside the country, but he has given Lasquety a free hand in how to handle the team.
”Sabi lang ni coach Vergel, kung ano ‘yung natutunan ko sa sistema niya, ‘yun lang ang i-apply ko. Kung ano ‘yung feeling mo na tamang gawin nila, nakikita ko na dapat gawin para manalo, gawin ko lang,” said Lasquety.
The JRU PBA D-League head coach admitted feeling the pressure and expects it to be that way when he coaches against battle-tested mentors in the likes of Koy Banal and Topex Robinson.
“Siyempre mas dagdag pressure sa akin kasi sobrang galing na nila mag-coach, ako baguhan pa lang. Pero siguro, kailangan namin mag-work hard. Pati ako, kailangan ko mag-scout, mag-extra gawin.
“Sinabi ko lang sa kanila, sumali tayo sa D-League to gain experience, to gain something na makatutulong sa atin sa NCAA. We are not asking from you guys na manalo. Gusto ko lang lumaban tayo sa court. Kailangan may makuha tayo sa laro natin,” said Lasquety.