ANTIPOLO – Jorge Gallent knew he had huge shoes to fill calling the shots for the San Miguel Beermen.
His predecessor Leo Austria after all, guided the franchise to nine championships in his eight years in charge.
But with the full backing of management, Gallent believes he can’t go wrong in his second foray into full-time PBA coaching.
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“Pressured, yes, but you know, management is always there. So there’s nothing to worry about,” he said.
Gallent’s first game at the helm of the Beermen ended in a runaway 114-93 win over the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Sunday night at the Ynares Center.
San Miguel pulled away early, racing to a 20-8 lead in the first quarter, which eventually ended with the team holding to a huge 21-point advantage.
The lead ballooned to its biggest at 62-29 in the second quarter, before the Fuel Masters made a furious fourth-quarter comeback that wasn’t enough to rattle a team as talented as the Beermen.
“This team is very composed,” said Gallent.
The support to the new coach was obviously there the way team demolished the opposition right in its first game in the season-ending meet.
And Gallent can’t thank San Miguel management for that.
“I’m just very lucky that Boss RSA, Boss Al (Chua), and Boss Robert (Non) gave this opportunity to coach a great organization,” said the 54-year-old mentor. “So I’m very happy for that.”
Gallent, who previously coached the Purefoods franchise for one season before Tim Cone took over in 2012, said he played golf after management told him about being promoted from deputy to full-time head coach.
“I played golf after an hour. Just to relax. Yes, just to relax,” said the 6-foot-2 product of Far Eastern University, who already handled the team for seven games in the Commissioner’s Cup when Austria was placed under the league’s health and safety protocols.
At the same time, he admitted not having talked to Austria yet since the coaching transition at San Miguel took effect just a week prior to the opening of the conference.
“Not yet. Siguro in a few weeks, or in a few days,” Gallent said.