GERARD Alejo can't thank Jerry Codinera enough for giving him the break in his coaching career.
A former member of the San Sebastian Stags in the late 1990s, Alejo said his coaching career has reached a dead end when he asked a favor from a friend so he can be introduced to the PBA great and Arellano Chiefs coach.
Codinera, Alejo said, took him in as a volunteer coach at Arellano.
"Meron akong kasama sa San Sebastian juniors, si coach Nap Garcia. Minsan malapit na opening ng Season 90, tinawagan ko siya kasi feeling ko na mukhang tapos na ang coaching career ko," said Alejo.
"Pinakilala ako kay coach Jerry. Dun na nagsimula na sabi niya, tiis-tiis na muna. Unang taon ko with Arellano, volunteer lang ako, walang sahod. Suwerte lang at nakapag-finals kami nung Season 90.
"Tuluy-tuloy na ako. Ngayon, I can say na naging mentor ko na siya," said the 44-year-old Alejo.
Alejo got by through coaching jobs at Philippine Normal University and St. Scholastica College until Lady Luck finally smiled on him.
Thanks to the Chiefs' impressive finish, he is now officially part of Codinera's coaching staff. The former Purefoods star later brought Alejo to the PBA D-League when he was appointed head coach of Racal.
"Very grateful ako kay coach Jerry na kahit wala naman ako sa original crew niya na pumasok diyan, kinupkop ako at natuto ako ng husto under him," said Alejo.
"Eto nga nasa PBA D-League na kami at sana umabot sa PBA sa tamang panahon," said Alejo.
More than a regular job, coaching for Alejo is a sacred privilege to be a positive influence on young men.
"Ang coaching, hindi lang trabaho na ginagawa ko para meron akong ibigay sa pamilya, kundi kung ano man 'yung di ko narating noon nung naglalaro ako, ibibigay ko sa mga may pag-asang makuha," said Alejo.
Alejo said he is also grateful to the Arellano management for accepting him with open arms.
"Laki ng pasalamat ko na napunta ako sa school na masasabi mo na importante ka," said Alejo, expressing his gratitude to the school's president Francisco Cayco.