EMILIO Aguinaldo College's Ariel Sison is no ordinary coach, far from it, mainly because he took quite a different path to landing at the helm of the Generals.
Basketball coaches usually come from the ranks of former varsity or even professional players, chosen for their first-hand experience of the game and their personal knowledge learned from years of playing under seasoned mentors. The 42-year-old first time coach of EAC, though, hails from the realm of the academe.
In accepting the post, Sison had to give up a job he held for eight years, as the dean of the Information Technology department of the school. Sison was even a professor to players Francis Munsayac, Sidney Onwubere, among others.
A Computer Science graduate at EAC, he also has a masters degree from La Salle and a doctorate from Technological Institute of the Philippines-Quezon City, and holds a teaching experience of 20 years ranging from Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Information Technology.
Sison, however, isn’t lacking in track record in basketball. He brought EAC-Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA)’s juniors basketball team to respectability with the Brigadiers being a perennial Final Four contender in the NCAA, which plays a big role behind EAC management's decision to promote him as the head coach of the seniors squad.
Sison had an unusual route to his current post, first being a coach in intramurals and sportsfests in college. But his deep passion for basketball, he believed, led him to the EAC juniors team coach and, eventually, the seniors squad.
“Nag-handle ako ng team namin sa sportsfest sa college, naglalaro-laro rin tapos nag-aral na rin ng basketball. Nakita siguro nila ‘yung passion ko sa basketball so they gave me a try,” said Sison.
Sison bared his struggles inn coaching the juniors basketball team, travelling from the EAC campus in Manila to its high school in Dasmariñas, Cavite to handle the juniors practices.
“Morning dito ako (sa Manila campus). Then, after lunch, travel na ako papuntang Cavite para sa practice ng 5 p.m. Tapos morning, dito uli ako (sa Manila),” Sison shared.
It's not really an unusual shift for Sison as he sees a lot of similarities in the academe and in athletics.
“Pareho kang nagtuturo, pareho kang nagshe-share ng knowledge mo. Ang pagkakaiba lang, ‘yung pagtuturo, I’ve been doing it for 20 years, ‘yun ang comfort zone ko. ‘Yung pag-cocoach, medyo nag-aadjust ka, nag-aaral ka araw araw, nag-peprepare ka. Hindi kagaya ng pagtuturo na madalas mo ma-encounter, update ka lang ng update,” said Sison.
Sison’s task is unenviable as he looks to lead a school that hasn’t tasted success in the NCAA since joining the league in 2009. But he is hard at work to bring respectability to the Generals.
“Dati, in high school, ‘yung practice namin, usual lang. Ngayon, hind puwedeng ganun. Everyday, what happened in practices today, I need to study it in the morning and look for adjustments. ‘Yung pressure nandun. Dati kasi we are not looked at in high school, ngayon marami ng tumitingin sa amin. Sobrang laki ng adjustment,” said Sison.
Sison is slowly and surely bringing in an environment of trust among the players and coaches, which he hopes will translate into victories.
“Hindi lang ako ang coach dito. I also act as a father to them. ‘Yung trust ko sa kanila, binigay ko sa kanila. That’s the most important [thing] now, mutual ang trust. Hindi lang isa ang nagdedecide. I always consult my players. Mas open na ang communication,” said Sison.