IT took sometime before it finally sank in on Junel Baculi that he was no longer coaching a team in the PBA - or Barako Bull to be more specific about it.
But for someone who’s been in the business for a long time now, Baculi said his firing is part of a coach’s job.
The one-time national mentor said he has no hard feelings towards Barako Bull management, and insisted he cherished the almost two-year stay he had with the franchise.
“I respect their decision and I don’t blame them for anything. Kasama sa buhay ng coaches ang mga bagay na ganyan,” said Baculi, breaking his silence on his unceremonious exit from Barako Bull two weeks ago.
The woeful record of the Energy Cola and the persistent rumors about a possible transfer to newcomer Globalport obviously affected the relationship between Baculi and the Barako franchise.
Baculi didn’t deny the casual talk he had with Globalport team owner Mikee Romero prior to the start of the season about the franchise’s interest in getting his services as a coach.
But the athletic director of National University insisted he politely turned down his former boss with the national team.
“I still had a live contract with Barako until August 2013 and I was bound to honor it no matter what,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Energy Cola’s freefall from the standings only hastened the parting of ways for the two parties.
“Wala raw kasi ako sa focus,” said Baculi, who, left Barako Bull with a 3-6 (win-loss) record. “But mind you, we could have been 6-3 by that time since three of our losses were all close ones, including the game against San Mig when Rafi (Reavis) tapped the ball out.”
Baculi disclosed he had a meeting with team owner George Chua before he formally left the team.
“I will always have full respect towards Boss George. He’ll always remain a friend to me.”
He likewise remained mum about the prospect of joining Globalport now that he is no longer coaching any team.
At the moment, the coach known for his baritone voice and well-trimmed mustache considers himself as "a casual PBA fan."
But for someone who’s been a top coach for a long time, Baculi being out of the coaching circle may not be for long.