Vanguardia breaks down in tears after offering Phoenix comeback win to late mentor Bong Go
Ariel Vanguardia could not hold back tears as he offered Phoenix's stunning comeback win to his late mentor Bong Go. Jerome Ascano

ARIEL Vanguardia turned emotional Wednesday night, partly for Phoenix's dramatic come-from-behind win over GlobalPort, but more so after honoring the memory of his late mentor Bong Go.

Vanguardia was quick to stress he's dedicating the 101-99 victory to the man who gave him the break that led him to where he is today in his coaching career.

Go, a veteran coach in both amateur ranks and the PBA, died on Monday night following a stroke.

"It's been an emotional week (for me). I lost my mentor coach Bong Go. I started coaching with him," said Vanguardia, who couldn't hold back tears as he talked about the former St. Benilde mentor.

Vanguardia recalled how he applied as a walk-in assistant of Go while the 66-year-old mentor was the man on top of the Blazers.

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Go was more than.pleased to take the newbie coach under his wing, even if he hasn't had any experience sitting on the bench, not even at the barangay level.

"He's just a selfless person," said Vanguardia.

When Vanguardia was named head coach of the Westport Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) four years ago, he initially thought of bringing Go with him.

"But he suffered his first stroke back then" he recalled. (In a message from Go's son Louis, it was actually his father's fifth stroke.)

Still, Go kept in contact with his former protege.

"He gives me advice especially when I'm overseas," Vanguardia added.

Just like him, Vanguardia is sure Go had also touched the lives of many coaches, mentioning such esteemed names like Yeng Guiao, Norman Black, Louie Alas, and even Bill Bayno.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos