Low-key Boy Sablan vows to bring 'underdog mentality' to new role as UST coach
New UST coach Boy Sablan says he has paid his dues as a coach. Snow Badua

HIS name doesn't ring a bell like, say, Ateneo consultant Tab Baldwin, new Adamson coach Franz Pumaren, La Salle's Aldin Ayo or University of the Philippines mentor Bo Perasol.

Still, newly appointed University of Santo Tomas head coach Boy Sablan is unfazed by the opposition he's bound to face in the coming UAAP basketball season - and is ready to prove his worth as a coach.

"Alam ko naman na maraming nagugulat (sa appointment ko), marami ang nagtataka at nagtatanong: ‘Bakit si Boy Sablan?’ Pero di ko na lang pinapansin,” Sablan said shortly after being introduced to the UST team as the new coach to replace Bong Dela Cruz. 

“Dumaan tayo proseso eh. Nag-present ako ng programa, nagustuhan ng UST. Hindi ko na kasalanan kung may mga sasabihin sa aking negative ang ibang tao,” he added. “Basta ako, gagawin ko lahat ng magagawa ko para sa UST and by God's grace, may mararating kami.

[See Boy Sablan introduced to UST players as new head coach]

Sablan, 52, was even considered an underdog in the race for the UST job, where former players like Chris Cantonjos, Estong Ballesteros, Bal David, Benet Palad, and Jino Manansala were likewise evaluated while the shadow of his former UST teammate Pido Jarencio loomed in the background.

Yet UST handed the job to Sablan, a low-key assistant coach at Blackwater who was a teammate of Pido Jarencio in the Tigers teams that reached the UAAP Finals in 1984 and later served as one of Jarencio's assistants for several years, including UST's run to its last league title in 2006.

Sablan said he has paid his dues as a coach.

“Dati tayong player, ilang dekada na tayo sa basketball. Matagal na akong assistant coach, 12 years na din, iba’t ibang tao na nakasalamuha ko, iba’t ibang bansa na ang nalibot ko para mag-aral at maging bahagi ng team ko,” he said.

“Hindi naman ako pressured, wala sa isip ako sa category na titimbangin. Trabaho talaga,” he added.

He now promises to bring that work ethic and underdog mentality to the UST from the time he runs practice for the first time on Wednesday morning with his assistant coaches in Patrick Fran, Rabbi Tomacruz, Taylon Darjuan, Joven Ledesma, Patrick Fran, and Gina Francisco, with Jon Aquino as conditioning coach.

[See Louie Vigil left ineligible after UAAP decision to lower age limit]

Sablan admitted UST, a runner-up last season to National University, faces a daunting task this season following the graduation of Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abdul and Ed Daquioag and the new age limit rule that made veteran holdovers Louie Vigil and Jamal Sheriff ineligible next season.

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“Ang beterano ko na lang sina Kent Lao at Janrey Garrido tapos aasa ako na mag step up ang mga sophomores na sina (Henri Lorenzo) Subido at Marvin Lee,” added the Valenzuela native.

Yet he has vowed to live up to the UST team's proud tradition.

“Hindi ako pressured. I always pray and believe may purpose ito bakit ako nandito God has plans for giving me this job,”  he said. “Alam ko naman na mga yun ang mga makakalaban, yung mga players naman maglalaro diskarte lang yan pag dating ng game.

"Kaya ako, kahit walang players ngayon, sisikapin kong bumuo ng malakas at maayos na lineup,” he added.

Listen to interview with Boy Sablan:

Follow the writer on Twitter: @snowbadua