OLYMPIAN and cage great Jimmy Mariano is open to the likelihood of helping University of the East in a consultant capacity but not on handling the day-to-day operation of the men’s basketball team as its head coach.
Mariano, who turns 73 on April 19, let out a hearty laugh when told by Spin.ph that his name was among those being tossed around by his alma mater to take over the place of former mentor Boycie Zamar.
“Tapos na ako diyan (head coaching). Huwag na nila ako pag-pantasiyahan,” he said smiling. “Pero kung totoo man ang balita, puwede naman akong tumulong as consultant.
"Pero coaching? Pabayaan na natin iyan sa mga bata.”
Zamar also serves as deputy coach of San Miguel in the PBA and coach of Cebuana Lhuillier in the D-League.
The 6-foot-4 Mariano, a former star in the MICAA and later in the PBA, said talks linking him to the UE job may have fed by the fact that he was the last mentor to steer the school to the UAAP championship in 1984 and 1985.
“Siguro naaalala pa nila 'yung last back-to-back UAAP championships na ako nag-coach (sa UE) nung time na iyun. Pero kung ako man ang isa sa na-consider, nagpapasalamat ako,“ said the veteran coach, who was part of the 1973 Philippine team that won the FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship.
“Pero magandang pag-aralan na lang nilang mabuti sino ang magko-coach kasi host ang UE this season.”
Incidentally, the UE team that won its last two UAAP titles had Zamar among its players, along with league Most Valuable Player Allan Caidic, and star center Jerry Codinera.
Mariano, who currently handles the high school varsity team of Cainta Catholic College, played for the national squad in the 1968 (Mexico City) and 1972 (Munich, Germany) Olympics.
He has one PBA title tucked under his belt after steering Presto to the 1990 All-Filipino championship.