ALLAN Gregorio has become a favorite to take over the University of the Philippines head-coaching job, with his entry expected to bring in heavyweight backers for a team aching to gain respectability in the UAAP.
An unimpeachable source told Spin.ph that Gregorio has received a commitment from Air21 owner Bert Lina to support the Maroons if the young mentor, currently the coach of the UPIS team, is elevated to head the seniors squad in the collegiate league next season.
Gregorio, who has interviewed for the position, has strong ties with Lina being a former team manager of Air21's ballclub in the PBA and a project director of the company’s youth basketball program.
The source added that Gregorio can also draw support from telecommunications magnate Manny V. Pangilinan through his brother Pato Gregorio, the commercial and marketing head of Meralco and one of MVP's trusted men in basketball.
Another brother, Ryan Gregorio, is also a UP alumnus who is currently head coach of the electric distribution company’s team in the pro league.
The Maroons are currently backed by Handyman and the Robinson’s Retail Group of the John Gokongwei Group of Companies.
The entry of more sponsors could be a boost the Maroons, who went winless for the third time over the last six years and have not come close to a championship since winning their only league title in 1986.
The source also said Gregorio enjoys the support of a few notable alumni like legendary coach Joe Lipa - coach of the 1986 champion team - as well as former Maroons mentor Ricky Dandan, who was unceremoniously replaced by team manager Rey Madrid this season.
Meanwhile, Madrid has also expressed interest to remain in the position while another top contender is former Maroon Paolo Mendoza, who will be the head coach of the UR Value squad that will have UP players in the PBA D-League.
Robert Sison, head coach of Big Chill in the PBA D-League, has also applied for the job through the UP College of Human Kinetics, a source said.