Dylan Ababou quick to honor passing of former UST coach with GlobalPort's breakthrough win
Dylan Ababou was quick to offer GlobalPort's breakthrough win to the late Senen Duenas, an assistant coach at UST when they won a UAAP title in 2006. Jaime Campos

IT'S the best tribute Dylan Ababou could give his former coach.

The veteran wingman was quick to offer GlobalPort's breakthrough win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup to the late Senen Duenas, who passed away hours before the team's Wednesday game against NLEX at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ababou had eight points and six rebounds in the 85-82 win that arrested the four-game losing streak of the Batang Pier.

"Para kay coach ito," he said after the game.

[See Grieving GlobalPort prolongs NLEX suffering]

Ababou and Duenas go a long way as the GlobalPort deputy coach was assistant to Pido Jarencio at University of Santo Tomas during the player's four-year stay at the Pontifical school.

Together, they won a UAAP championship in 2006.

But that wasn't his most unforgetable experience with Duenas. Ababou said the one thing that really stayed in his memory bank came during his final playing year with the Tigers.

"Nung papunta na kami ng Final Four, pinulong nya kaming lahat. Tapos kinausap niya kami, maya-maya umiiyak na siya," recalled Ababou of the incident that came as a surprise for the Tigers.

"Tapos sinabi niya na kaya ko lang kayo pinapahirapan kasi mahal na mahal ko kayo," Ababou added. "Na para pag dumating kayo sa ibang coaches, sa national team, sa PBA, sanay na kayo sa hirap."

Duenas, 52, was the trainer and strength conditioning coach of the Tigers back then, being a former football player himself.

The 30-year-old Ababou admitted being surprised by the sudden turn of events. He said he just visited his former coach at the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, and while he appeared still a bit dizzy after undergoing operation two days ago, Duenas seemed to be recovering well.

"Pero ok pa siya e," he disclosed, saying Duenas even recognized him by saying his name.

[See Beloved GlobalPort, UST assistant coach Senen Duenas passes away]

How stunned Ababou was when numerous text messages early Wednesday morning brought him the bad news.

"Akala ko nga hindi totoo, e," he said.

In the short time he was with GlobalPort after being acquired in a trade with Blackwater, Ababou didn't get the chance to personally work with Duenas.

By that time, Duenas wad already sick.

"One time nakausap ko lang siya. That time ooperahan pa lang siya," he said.

Ababou said hia former UST teammates are planning to do a little fundraising among themselves to help the loved ones left behind by their former coach.

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It's the best tribute the Tigers could give their former coach.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos