ANTIPOLO - As another disappointing season winds down, University of the East active consultant Lawrence Chongson wondered if a change in management style in Recto could turn around the Warriors' fortunes moving forward.
"Wala namang long term [program] ang UE eh. They change coaches just like they change clothes. They got mga Hall of Fame coaches, they got young guys, and one thing you have to give to them is that they don't stop trying," he said.
"Perhaps, sa akin lang, try nila na instead of changing coaches, change in management style din."
The Red Warriors bowed out of Final Four contention in UAAP Season 82 after an 84-50 defeat to Ateneo on Sunday that dropped their record to 3-9 - and extended what already stands as the longest active Final Four drought in the league.
Incidentally, the last time UE made it to the playoffs was when the squad, then coached by Chongson and led by Paul Lee, finished runner-up to Ateneo a decade ago.
Since then, the Red Warriors have seen coaches come and go over the past decade, moving from Jerry Codinera to Boycie Zamar to Derrick Pumaren to Joe Silva, and, prior to this season, to Bong Tan.
Of those names, Pumaren served the longest with four seasons under his belt and got UE the closest to the Final Four, with the Roi Sumang-led squad losing only in a fourth place-playoff against eventual champion National University.
Chongson thinks that any changes at UE should start at the top.
"Everybody’s acting in good faith, but it’s just that sometimes when you put the steering wheel on the wrong driver, chances are they’d drive you off a cliff," he said.
Chongson, however, insisted he is not campaigning to stay or be promoted, with the active consultant also serving as the Red Warriors' concurrent head of basketball operations.
For him, as the case for the longest time, he knows that he serves at the behest of Tan, his boss for the longest time.
"I came here not thinking long-term, I’ll be honest with that. Hindi naman talaga ako dapat yung coach, di ba? It could be in better hands in the short term, di ba?" he said, expounding on the rationale of getting one-and-dones in Rey Suerte and Jed Mendoza for this campaign.
"Let’s face it, you get one-and-dones to win right away dahil gusto namin ma-solve yung isang dekadang hindi nag-Final Four. We want to get to the Final Four now. Akala ko madu-duplicate ko yung feat ko a decade ago. But I guess may ibang plano yung tadhana and it wasn’t meant to be."
The Warriors have two more games to play this season against Far Eastern University and NU. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess what the future holds for the team.
"It's not for me to say for now," he said.