BONG Hawkins was spotted on the University of the Philippines bench during its Filoil preseason game on Wednesday but head coach Rey Madrid made it clear the former Alaska forward is not yet officially part of the Maroons’ coaching staff.
Hawkins was seen seated at the far end of the UP bench on Wednesday when the Maroons faced Emilio Aguinaldo College, even blurting out instructions to a few players during the course of the game.
Madrid said Hawkins is currently not an assistant coach of the Maroons, saying that he is a ‘special invitee’ of the coaching staff. But despite having no formal role in the Maroons, Madrid said Hawkins has been a big help for the Maroons especially in honing their big men.
Incidentally, Hawkins was a former Alaska teammate of Edward ‘Poch’ Juinio, who is one of the assistants of Madrid at UP. Hawkins and Juinio were starters in Alaska's grand slam team in 1996 under head coach Tim Cone along with Johnny Abarrientos and Jojo Lastimosa.
Hawkins is also an uncle of former UP cager Chris Ball, who finished his collegiate eligibility with the Maroons last year.
“Bong is a special invitee sa coaching staff. I really welcome his presence. He is a good friend of coach Poch and mine as well,” Madrid said.
Hawkins, a many-time All-Star in the PBA, is also being mentioned among those eyed by Cone to serve in his staff at San Mig following Jeffrey Cariaso and Olsen Racela's move to Ginebra.
San Mig has yet to announce its choices but team governor Rene Pardo told Spin.ph that former Alaska coach and longtime Cone understudy Luigi Trillo is not one of the candidates.
But despite having no official capacity in the team, Madrid said ‘The Hawk’ has been a big help for the Maroons, taking time to join UP practices and working on the bigs.
“Siya ang nag-co-conduct ng ibang drills sa big men. Nag-mamanifest naman sa game like rebounding. Kaya after the game, I thank him for that,” said Madrid.
Hawkins seems to be a perfect fit for the Maroons, who will be going small ball due to their lack of ceiling. A former Perpetual Help standout in the late 1980s, Hawkins found a niche in the PBA where he played for 14 seasons despite being an undersized power forward.
“I value the wisdom of Bong Hawkins. Grabe, what a wealth of wisdom si Bong,” Madrid said.
Madrid is hoping that Hawkins will eventually become part of the coaching staff of UP in time for the UAAP season where the Maroons are looking to improve on their 0-14 slate last year.
“Hopefully, he stays. Kasi invitee palang siya ngayon kasi baka may commitment siya. Pero right now, he is a big boost sa amin,” said Madrid.