IT was his older brother who gave him his first break on the sidelines. Now, the younger bro is returning the favor.
Koy Banal is relishing his coaching reunion with Joel as the brothers team up in calling the shots for Marinerong Pilipino, one of the PBA D-League teams making their debut in the upcoming conference.
The 59-year-old Joel, three years older than Koy, took his younger brother in as an assistant during his time as Mapua head coach, teaming up for five years until 1996.
More than two decades later, there’s a reversal of roles as Koy, who’s making his coaching comeback via Marinerong Pilipino, has requested Joel to come out of retirement and give him a hand as a consultant.
“I’m very excited about this conference,” Koy said in a chat with SPIN.ph. “Aside from magco-coach ulit ako, I’m excited about yung tandem namin ni coach Joel.”
“Kumbaga balik-tambalan ni Tirso and Edgar Mortiz,” he added with a chuckle, referring to the popular showbiz rivals of yesteryears.
The elder Banal has readily embraced his role, stepping in during huddles in practices whenever he sees something wrong.
“You don’t lose it (coaching instinct),” Joel said. “It’s there even when I watch my grandchildren when they play, I correct their mistakes. It’s there."
“When I step on the floor, look at the guys, it’s there, instinct,” the grandfather of two added. “You won’t let go of a mistake. A coach is first and foremost a teacher.”
But Joel, a champion coach both in the PBA and NCAA, insisted he’s not overstepping his bounds on Koy, one of the few coaches to capture both a UAAP and NCAA title.
“He initiates it and I add to it,” Joel said. “He has his own system and I have my own system. What I’m doing now is I’m waiting for him and I’ll add to it. It’s really a tandem. I don’t mind.”
Aside from being virtually his right-hand man, Joel is also the team’s spiritual adviser, Koy said.
Chiqui Reyes, one of the country’s top sportscasters, has also been given his coaching break as one of the team’s assistants and he’s also handling the marketing duties of the squad.
“Dito kasi, puro dual role ang ginagawa ng mga kasama namin dito,” Koy said. “Yung taper namin nagma-masahe; yung PT namin at the same time nagii-stretch siya.”
With his multitasking, hardworking staff, Banal is hoping to lead his rookie team made up of a mixture of a few veterans and top amateurs in making a great first impression in the developmental league.
As I see them, the potential of each and every one of these players is really something. Hopefully, we can translate that into Ws,” Banal said, rattling off Mark Isip, Achie Iñigo, and Julian Sargent as some of his notable players.
“I think itong unit na ito will be able to compete in that level,” the veteran coach added. “We are just lucky that we are able to have in our fold these players, but it’s not easy to compete with Cignal at teams na matagal na magkakasama.
"Ang goal lang dito muna is to get better every day, not only in terms of basketball, but yung relationship-wise.”
Banal said team management and its low-profile owner whose identity he declined to divulge has signed on initially for a one-conference deal in the D-league.
“Sa ngayon, yun (one-conference deal) lang muna,” Banal said. “Ang objective is to for the Filipinos to be aware na ang seafarers, ang mga Filipino seaman, ay malaking part ng nagpapasok ng dollar income dito sa Pilipinas. Ang pagiging seafarer or seaman is a good career. Maraming kumukuha na Pilipino na seaman.”
While Banal wants people to be aware of that, he knows the ultimate mission is to make the D-League competition take notice of his team first.