IT was mixed emotions for Far Eastern University assistant coach Eric Gonzales after the Tamaraws ended a decade-long waiting to win the UAAP men’s basketball championship on Wednesday at the expense of alma mater University of Santo Tomas.
While he was happy and proud at what FEU had achieved, he was also sorry to see the Tigers came short again of winning the title.
“Syempre unang-una masaya ako para sa amin sa FEU kina coach Nash (Racela) kasi we’ve been working hard for this at saka ‘yung mga players,” he shared to Spin.ph amid the pandemonium at centercourt of the Mall of Asia Arena following the Tamaraws’ 67-62 title conquest over the Tigers.
“Yung pagiging UST (alumnus) thankful tayo dyan kasi alma matter naman natin ‘yan,” added Gonzales, who studied Commerce and Education at the Espana-based school from 1989-1994.
Gonzales recalled how his coaching career started in 1995 after then UST athletic director Felicitas Francisco asked him if he wanted to coach since juniors mentor Binky Favis was looking for an assistant.
“Actually doon (sa UST) talaga ako nagsimula mag-coach. Grabe pasasalamat ko kina coach Binky (Favis) lalo na kay Ma’am Francisco na binigyan tayo ng chance mag-coach doon,” he said.
Despite the FEU celebration, Gonzales still found time to commiserate with the Tigers, stressing how proud he is with the team, especially to skipper and graduating forward Kevin Ferrer, who carried the team to victory in Game Two that paved the way for the winner take all match.
He proved that once a Thomasian, will always be a Thomasian.
“Saludo din ako sa performance ng mga players nila (UST) lalo na kay Ferrer. Ibang klaseng player. Sabi ko heads up siya nothing to be ashamed off,” he said.
“Ngayon nga lang ako bumuo ng kanta eh, ‘God of all nations…’,” he said of the UST hymn.
“Tinapos ko siya, dati kasi sa dulo lang ako kasi nahihiya ako sa iba (kong kasama sa FEU). Kanina binuo ko nakataas kamay ko, so ayun masaya andoon lahat ng mga kaibigan ko mga kabaro natin. Trabaho lang ito.”