THE surprise rise of Boy Sablan to the University of Santo Tomas Tigers’ head coaching job has inspired other little-known coaches who have long aspired for the big break.
Before assuming the role vacated by controversial Tigers coach Bong Dela Cruz, Sablan has mostly stayed in the shadows as one of the assistants of Leo Isaac at Blackwater and as one of the back-ups of Pido Jarencio from their playing days at UST to their time together on the Tigers bench.
No wonder he has become a source of inspiration for similarly less-heralded coaches like Ateneo women’s assistant coach Cris Bautista.
The Marikina-based mentor told SPIN.ph that Sablan serves as proof that little-known coaches like him have what it takes to handle highly respectable ballclubs like the many-time UAAP champion squad.
“Inspirasyon talaga para sa aming hindi masyadong kilala ng mainstream basketball fans yung naging experience ni Coach Boy. Kasi ang mahirap talaga sa aming mga coaches lalo na yung hindi lumaro ng PBA, hindi kami agad priority sa selection,” said Bautista, who was twice the head coach of the FEU-NRMF team in the DeLeague.
“May times kasi na kahit anong ganda ng programa na pinepresenta namin, may inferiority complex kami kasi makikita mo kalaban mo ex-PBA player, sa name recall pa lang talo ka na,” he added.
A former member of the La Salle Greenhills coaching staff that molded the young career of incoming UCLA Bruin Kobe Paras, Bautista hopes Sablan exceeds expectations in the UAAP as UST's success bodes well for the rest of the unsung coaches.
“Ako ang prayers ko sana mag-succeed si Coach Boy. Kasi siya ngayon ang mukha naming mga coaches na hindi gaanong kilala. Sana nga yung UST stint nya eh magbunga ng maganda para he can open doors for us struggling coaches,” said Bautista, who is now the head of the basketball program of Jubilee Christian Academy.
“Malaking bagay yung nangyari sa kanya, kasi nagkaroon ako ng pag-asa na makakamit ko rin yung success nya. Mas lumakas ang loob ko ngayon. Nakita ko sa mga katulad kong hindi kilalang coach na hindi na lang kami limitado sa elementary at high school teams,” he said. “Marami ang hindi kilalang nag-co-coach na marurunong.”
Bautista went on to name another unknown coach who has since become a formidable name in collegiate basketball, Aldin Ayo, who won a championship with Letran in the NCAA last year before transferring to La Salle in the UAAP.
Meanwhile, the lack of coaching opportunities in the Philippines forced former La Salle Lady Archers’ coach Tyronne Bautista to accept a head coaching job in Thailand. But he's optimistic and empowered by Sablan's example that he, too, can make his way back home for his own coaching break.
“In a way, ganun nangyari sa akin. Kaya ako sumubok ako rito. Kulang talaga sa opportunity dyan eh, ako naman hoping na matulad sa iba na later on sa career nila nakabalik dyan sa Pilipinas,” said Bautista, a former standout of the La Salle Green Archers.
“There are a lot of capable coaches that only need opportunities to show what they can do,” he added.
He also cited the case of former Barako coach Bong Ramos, who was noticed by PBA teams after leading an Aspac team to a four-peat championship in an Indonesian league.
“Yun sana maging ganun ako kay coach Bong na napansin kasi gusto ko sa Pilipinas eh, iba pa rin ang kumpetisyon dyan. But I am happy to learn things and share my knowledge here. Thailand is one of the fastest rising nations sa basketball,” said the 2013 UAAP women’s champion coach, the last to beat the now powerhouse NU Lady Bulldogs in the finals.
Listen to the interview with the two coaches: