COACHING is a calling Justin Tan couldn’t resist.
Agonizing from the bench as team owner, thinking of plays and situations but unable to execute them himself, Tan finally decided to take over as head coach of the Mindoro Tamaraws starting Thursday, July 11, when the expansion team tangles with the Quezon City Capitals at the Blue Eagle Gym in Katipunan, Quezon City.
Tan, of course, knows what’s going on in and out of the court.
A former coach of La Salle Greenhills, which he steered to multiple titles, including the SBP National Championships 12-under, Tan also briefly mentored the Pampanga Lanterns in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup.
In four games, Tan posted an even 2-2 win-loss slate.
Tan played for Informatics in the PBA D-League several years ago, but decided to embark into coaching rather than playing more hoops.
And he succeeded.
His coaching resume includes stints in the international level where he handled the Pilipinas Cocolife team, which competed in Thailand's Dragon Cup.
Tan had the privilege of learning from some of the best local coaches in the country, among them PBA champion Chito Victolero, multi-titled collegiate coach Koy Banal, current Bulacan Kuyas mentor Britt Reroma, Imus Bandera coach Budds Reyes, Karl Santos, and Hubert delos Santos.
So Tan’s well-equipped to handle the Tamaraws in the ongoing MPBL Lakan Season, where he’ll be the youngest among a small group of coach/owner in the 31-team regional amateur league founded by Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
Others with the distinction are Elvis Tolentino (Marikina), John Kallos (Caloocan), and Monel Kallos (Bicol, part owner).
According to Tan, he was persuaded to take over as coach by Pampanga Giant Lanterns owner Congressman Dong Gonzales.
"When we played against Bataan in Pampanga, magkakausap kami ni Congressman Dong (Gonzales) and Congressman Doy Leachon of Mindoro, and Congressman Dong encouraged me to continue on coaching dahil OK naman daw ako mag-coach," Tan said.
Tan credited his predecessor, Bengie Teodoro, for setting the direction of the Tamaraws, currently with a 1-2 record in the Lakan Season.
"Coach Bengie is a good coach and he brought in a good system to our team. Gusto ko lang dagdagan pa," added Tan. "Our modest goal is to make it to the playoffs and we want to keep on improving every day sa team."
Now, Tan will no longer be just a keen observer from the bench. He'll call the shots the way he wants to.