THE win by Jose Rizal University over De La Salle in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup on Saturday was bittersweet one for Cholo Villanueva.
“Of course, parang it’s a bittersweet feeling because I came from La Salle,” admitted Villanueva to Spin.ph after the Heavy Bombers’ huge upset of the reigning UAAP men’s champion. “But siyempre, I’m part of JRU now.”
A former Green Archer, Villanueva now takes on the challenge of being a deputy of Bombers coach Vergel Meneses.
Villanueva suited up for La Salle from 2001 to 2007, winning two UAAP championships under Franz Pumaren.
Incidentally, Villanueva followed his head coach in college as he is now of Pumaren’s coaching staff with Air21, which recently made waves after coming a win short of advancing in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
Villanueva said the system Meneses is implementing at JRU is similar to the one Pumaren previously used at La Salle, which he believes is the reason why the former cage great lured him to become part of his coaching staff.
“What we do here in JRU is the old system of La Salle. Full-court press, pressuring, contesting the passes. So playing in that kind of environment before, siguro naisip niya (Meneses) na I can help out,” said Villanueva.
The former La Salle guard said he looks forward to his new position as an assistant coach of a collegiate team, a role that suits him just fine being a former teacher and guidance counselor for REACH International School.
“I’ve been a teacher before after I graduated. We are a family of teachers. I’m very keen on giving my own experiences to the kids. So coaching for me is my way of teaching na rin,” said Villanueva, who finished with a degree in educational psychology at La Salle.
Villanueva said he likes the chances of JRU this coming NCAA season after the Bombers missed the Final Four last year even with the likes of veterans Philip Paniamogan and Michael Mabulac, and transferee Jaycee Asuncion leading the team.
“We are a promising team. We still have a lot to improve on, pero I see the potential in our team. As long as we stay within the system, we will be one of the teams to look out in this NCAA,” said Villanueva.
Despite JRU defeating La Salle in the preseason tournament, Villanueva said the Archers are still a top team in the UAAP.
“Very strong team,” Villanueva said. “I think they recruited two or three more players to the UAAP. They are still a powerhouse team in the UAAP.”
And notwithstanding La Salle’s defeat to JRU, at the end of the day, Villanueva is still a LaSallian by heart.
“After the game naman, LaSallian pa rin ako,” Villanueva added with a smile.