IT was the perfect reunion for a champion coach and champion players.
Brief as it may be, but it was a true delight when Ryan Gregorio was reunited with former players James Yap and Paul Artadi during the PBA Philippine Cup doubleheader at the Filoil EcoOil Arena in San Juan.
Now San Juan City councilors, Yap and Artadi were at the venue as part of the special guests of commissioner Willie Marcial for the quarterfinal matches pitting Barangay Ginebra and Meralco, and Magnolia versus NLEX.
City mayor Francis Zamora, a former cager himself with La Salle and Welcoat and Blu Detergent in the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL), and Don Allado, also a former player under Gregorio and Purefoods teammate of Yap and Artadi and now likewise San Juan councilor, was with the group at ringside along with vice mayor Warren Villa.
Coach Ryan Gregorio with former Purefoods player James Yap.
But it was the sight of Gregorio having some light moments with Yap and Artadi which warmed the hearts of basketball fans, especially supporters of the Purefoods franchise.
“It warmed my heart seeing my former players in their home court, knowing that they play more significant roles for a bigger team now,” said the champion coach, who worked the television coverage during the game between the Hotshots and Road Warriors.
“From winning championships together, they now transitioned into working together to serve the people of San Juan, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” added Gregorio, currently senior assistant vice president of Meralco and head of talent management under Human Resources.
With Yap and Artadi working the backcourt for Gregorio during their time together at Purefoods, the franchise won two championships - the 2005-06 and 2009-10 Philippine Cups.
Allado was also part of the last champion team that topped the all-Filipino conference.
All those memories of course, flashed back as Gregorio exchanged pleasantries with his former top two players.
It didn’t surprise the now retired coach that Yap, Artadi, and Allado eventually ended up as public servants.
“When they were my players, they already showed so much dedication, commitment, and selfless service,” said Gregorio. “I can vouch for their sincerity in serving and uplifting the lives of those from San Juan.”
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