CEBU CITY – Junthy Valenzuela has no less than his former coach Yeng Guiao for his role model now that he’s calling shots for the University of San Carlos team.
Like Guiao during his Red Bull days, Valenzuela has adapted a no superstar-mentality in his team that has overachieved right in his first season as coach, with the Warriors setting a Finals match-up against powerhouse Southwestern University Cobras for the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) title.
“Dito sa team namin, walang star. Anyone and everyone is capable of contributing in every game,” said Valenzuela, the former Salazar Institute of Technology stalwart who blossomed as a hard-nosed defender while playing for Guiao with Red Bull.
Known for his unconventional coaching mentality and the knack for developing unheralded players, Guaio has become a source of inspiration Valenzuela in the way he handles the Warriors behind a system founded on discipline and hard work.
Told about the achievements of his former player as a rookie coach, Guiao beamed with pride and admitted the potential of Valenzuela as coach was already there during his playing days with him since the Cebuano player has shown leadership qualities.
“I am very happy for Junthy. He was always a leader when he was playing for me with Red Bull. He played with a lot of heart and toughness which he also displays now in his new career as coach,” said Guiao in a text message to Spin.ph.
“I know he will be very successful in the years to come as a coach. This is just the start of what I believe will be a winning career (for him).”
Valenzuela is thankful for having played with Guiao during his PBA stint that saw him win three championships with the franchise.
“Aaminin ko na nagtagal ako more sa professional system than sa amateur one. Pero I’m really trying to adapt a professional approach to the collegiate level kasi kung makikita mo, it’s how things are done in Manila.
“Pero it all starts talaga with discipline and hard work. Wala akong pakialam kung sino ka, basta kung magtitiyaga ka at magpapakita sa practice, mabibigyan ka talaga ng minuto,” added Valenzuela.
Like Guiao, Valuenzuela considers his players as family, and proved it last year when he got ejected and subsequently suspended for throwing a chair in the middle of the court after objecting to what he perceived to be overly aggressive plays being done against the Warriors.
“I did that kasi nakita ko na sobrang aggressive na ang laro ng kalaban at pinapabayaan lang ng mga referees. Sabi ko nga sa mga refs na huwag hayaan at baka meron masaktan. Ayaw ko may masaktan sa mga players ko,” he recalled of the incident.
“Ang babata pa ng mga ito. Pero pagkatapos naman, naisip ko rin na di ko na lang sana ginawa yun kasi kailangan din ng mga bata ng leader. So nakita nyo naman na this year, kahit technical foul wala pa ako.”
Making it to the Finals right in his rookie season is definitely no small feat, but the USC mentor chose to deflect the credit to his players.
“As I said, wala talagang star dito sa team. Lahat nagta-trabaho for their playing time. It just makes my job easier kasi lahat sila nakikinig at madaling patakbuhin,” he said.