AS Jeffrey Cariaso prepares to embark on his debut conference at Barangay Ginebra, legendary PBA coach Tommy Manotoc is hoping his lack of head-coaching experience won't work against him.
Manotoc, a Hall of Famer who owns six league championships including a grand slam with Crispa in 1983, said ideally Cariaso - who he coached during a brief comeback with Mobiline in 1997-98 - would be better equipped for the Ginebra job if he had previous experience as a head coach.
“The problem (in Jeff’s case), for me, a PBA coach should have coached a team first before becoming a PBA coach. Dapat nag coach muna siya sa ibang liga,” Manotoc said in a wide-ranging interview with Spin.ph.
Cariaso, the 1995 Rookie of the Year and a 15-year veteran, took the Ginebra job straight from an assistant coach position under Tim Cone at San Mig.
“It’s really difficult to be a head coach than to be an assistant coach, so it would be advisable that before somebody gets into that hot seat, he must have been able to feel how it is to coach,” Manotoc said.
Manotoc, now the head of the National Golf Association of the Philippines, cited the case of another young coach in Luigi Trillo, who cut his coaching teeth handling Adamson in the college leagues and Cebuana Lhuillier in the amateurs aside from spending time as Cone's understudy at Alaska.
Trillo won a championship with the Uytengsu franchise last season.
In contrast, Olsen Racela took on the Petron head coach position straight from his only head-coaching job with the Philippine youth team and didn't last a season. He is now Cariaso's chief assistant at Ginebra.
“Look at Luigi, he coached at Adamson then he had a D-League stint (as head coach). So I tend to agree with the worry of others because Racela was immediately placed on the hot seat,” said Manotoc, who also won championships with U-Tex and San Miguel.
“Hopefully, he can learn from Olsen’s experience since Racela is part of his team. The key there is the pool of assistant coaches. That’s what’s been happening at Ginebra, kulang ng supporting cast sa assistants,” he added.
But if there is something working for Cariaso, Manotoc said it is his vast playing experience as well as his fighting spirit which fits well into the Ginebra team's own character.
“The advantage of Jeffrey is that his playing experience is there," Manotoc said. "Isa sa matapang na players na napanood ko 'yan. Walang daga sa dibdib.”
Asked if he’s be willing to return to coaching if an offer comes, Manotoc immediately shot down the suggestion.
“No, I am happy where I am now. I still enjoy basketball, I still watch (the games) and follow every minute,” he said. “I am still willing to give advice when somebody ask me pero pag nasa firing line pa ulit, ayoko na."