With the departure of head coach Frankie Lim and star transferee guard Edgar Charcos, not many paid attention to the Altas as they hovered around the lower tier of the standings for most part of the tournament.
Not only did they escape obscurity, they managed to snag the last semis spot in the tournament.
“Kaya naman ako nagpunta ng Perpetual kasi gusto ko manalo e, gusto ko makilala ang alma mater ko kaya ko pinuntahan to,” Saguiguit told reporters after their 76-64 win over College of St. Benilde last Wednesday in the final play-in to the semifinals.
“Makapagbigay ng panalo in a small way, masarap manalo sa Perpetual. Pag umuuwi kami talagang kala mo fiesta, masaya ang mga tao, especially yung may ari si boss Alta.”
Saguiguit actually studied at Perpetual during the time of former NCAA MVP Jojo Manalo, Gilbert Malabanan and Chester Tolomia – though he never really got a chance to play in the tournament.
That didn’t stop him from serving his alma mater though as he joined the Perpetual coaching staff in 2017, handling the Junior Altas while also serving as assistant to Jimwell Gican and Frankie Lim.
It was in that stretch where he partnered up with the high-scoring Razon, as they carried the Perpetual flag in the juniors division – and that partnership is now the very heart and soul of this Altas squad.
Jielo Razon, Kim Aurin, coach Myk Saguiguit and the rest of the Altas make the Final Four after finishing fifth in the eliminations.
For Razon, it’s not that hard working with Saguiguit – describing his mentor as a player’s coach. It’s not only Razon’s game which elevated under Saguiguit, the whole team has been following suit as well.
“Yung confidence binibigay samin ni coach Myk yun, sinusubo na nga sa amin e, Kakainin nalang namin yung confidence namin kaya wala kaming masasabi, di siya nagagalit,” Razon described.
“Lahat pwede tumira kaya yung ibang mga tao samin talagang nagsstep-up, from yung sixth man, seventh, hanggang 15th nag step-up.”
That was most evident in their crazy run to steal the fourth spot in the NCAA semis as they went through three knockout games starting with their win over Emilio Aguinaldo College last week, to their first play-in game against Arellano last Sunday, to now against the fancied Blazers.
Not even the absence of star forward Kim Aurin would stop Perpetual’s magical run as they ran through St. Benilde, all thanks to their balanced attack.
For the soft-spoken mentor, it’s all about the players.
“Wala ngang butas ng karayom e, sarado e. Pero nalagpasan nila, gustong gusto talaga nila pero I give credit to them. Tinrabaho talaga ng mga players namin,” Saguiguit said.
“Actually yung depth, mga bata sila, ang nakakatuwa lang they embrace the system. Yung pinagusapan namin, yung ginawa namin sa practice, yun talaga ang lumabas. Nakakatuwa kasi talagang nag surrender sila sa system.”
Their reward for winning three knockout games in a row? A date with the unbeaten Letran Knights who topped the eliminations with a 9-0 record.
For Razon, he’s hopeful that all the experience they got from those three knockout games will give them a shot at the red-hot Knights.
“Sobrang hirap na sobrang sarap kasi siguro ngayon mataas ang kumpyansa namin kasi tatlong crucial games ang pinanalo nami,” Razon stated.
“May lakas kami at may kumpyansa kami pag dating Letran, hindi biro ang Letran kaya kailangan namin paghagdaan ng matindi.”
That Letran match can wait though as Saguiguit wants to enjoy this accomplishment first with his players.
“Nakaangat ako ngayon. Yung enjoyment, yung saya, sobra para akong nakalutang ngayon,” Saguiguit explained.
“Hindi ko nga alam kung naglalakad ako o ano e, sobrang saya lang gusto ko lang i-enjoy itong moment na to kasi sa wakas napaguusapan na ang Perpetual.”
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