IF his players didn’t respond when he was present, maybe they would when he was absent.
That seemed to have been the reasoning of Jose Rizal University coach Vergel Meneses after the Heavy Bombers' winless start in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Trying to send a message to his players, Meneses intentionally missed Bombers practice the past four days, leaving the chores to his assistants led by Cholo Villanueva.
“Definitely (send a message),” Meneses stressed after the team finally barged into the win column on Monday when the Bombers held off College of St. Benilde, 69-61.
“I wasn’t happy with the way they played,” Meneses added of his team’s 0-2 win-loss start. “Parang walang respeto. Nandun lang ako sa loob ng court tapos walang nag-fo-follow. Parang it was time na magsalita ako against them.”
The ploy appeared to work as the Bombers displayed the energy that was lacking the first two games against the Blazers — when Meneses decided to show up.
“Muntik pang hindi magpakita ngayon,” said Michael Mabulac, the Bombers’ star forward who finally recovered after struggling in his first two games by contributing 16 points, 12 boards, three assists, and one block.
“Yung napag-usapan namin nung last game sa dugout, lahat ng adjustments, kailangan i-apply namin, hindi lang sa court, pati sa labas. Ginawa namin ‘yun at ito yung naging outcome,” said Mabulac, last year’s Most Improved Player.
“My staff did a great job preparing them,” Meneses admitted. “The staff challenged the players.”