ERIC Altamirano was understandably elated to win UAAP Coach of the Year honors this season.
It was afterall his first award ever as a coach.
“Sa totoo lang, matagal na akong nag-cocoach, ngayon lang ako nagka-award,” Altamirano bared during 2014 Collegiate Basketball Awards organized by the UAAP-NCAA Press Corps on Thursday night.
Altamirano has been coaching for almost two decades and has won a pair of championships in the PBA, but finally won Coach of the Year honors afer steering National University to its first UAAP title in 60 years.
The 48-year-old coach, however, was quick to deflect the credit to the Bulldogs, who he said was the best team he had ever coached, attitude-wise.
“Sabi nga nila, players win games and they are really the reason why we won this championship. Eto ‘yung pinakamabait na players na na-coach ko sa career ko, including PBA players,” said Altamirano.
"I’m really proud of coaching these guys."
Altamirano also took the opportunity to honor his assistant coaches as well as NU management led by owners Hans and Manny Sy, who stood by him even after a powerhouse side led by Bobby Ray Parks came up empty the season before.
“Of course, I would like to thank management — Mr. Hans Sy and Manny Sy — for sticking with me and believing in me. We had to go through a lot of adversities. I’m really thankful that they continued to believe in us and in the system,” said Altamirano.
Altamirano said the historic UAAP title is something he will cherish for the rest of his life.
“Nobody could have written a better script than God. Who would have thought we would win five do-or-die games without our key players. It’s something that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Hopefully, we will be able to celebrate this victory in the next 60 years,” said Altamirano.