NO less than the man whom he succeeded has the approval of Caloy Garcia as the best choice to be the next coach of the Letran men’s basketball team.
Louie Alas, the longtime coach who stepped down after leading the Knights to a runner-up finish behind San Beda in the last NCAA season, said the Intramuros school made the right decision in turning over the coaching reigns to Garcia.
Garcia, the head deputy of Yeng Guiao at Rain or Shine, signed one-year deal with Letran on Tuesday to coach the Knights for the 89th season.
The mestizo coach is actually just the second choice of the Knights as original pick, the veteran Larry Albano, failed to strike a deal with the school.
But Alas doesn’t see any problem despite Garcia just being the second choice.
“He’s (Garcia) the most deserving,” the affable, multi-titled mentor said over the phone on Wednesday. “At siya ang napili ng united commission so siguro may nakita sila sa kanya.”
Garcia already has the support of the entire Letran team, which senior certain Jojo Belorio believes remains a top contender for the title next season.
“Sa tingin ko magiging okay yung season (89). At looking forward na ako diyan,” he said.
Belorio, a native of Zamboanga, said he doesn’t see any conflict with the entry of Garcia to the team.
“I think magiging okay naman ang sistema ni coach Caloy (sa team),” he said of the Knights’ new mentor, who once handled the coaching reins of St. Benilde Blazers, also in the NCAA.
“Kaya sana back-to-back Finals kami,” Belorio said.
Garcia edged out Nel Prado, Tino Pinat, Monch Gavieres and Ronjay Enrile for the coaching job shortly after Albano dropped out of the list.
He had his last head-coaching duty in the PBA with Welcoat/Rain or Shine from 2008 to 2010. Prior to that, the cousin of Filipino-Spanish Angel and Juani Guirado of the Philippine Azkals, handled College of St. Benilde for three years from 2005, but failed to lead the Blazers to a winning record during his stay.
But Alas thinks Garcia’s experience remains an asset, saying his inactivity as a college head coach will hardly matter.
“Experience wise, mahaba na rin,” said Alas. “Short period lang yun (being away from head-coaching), tingin ko magiging effective pa rin siya.”
Yet, Alas’ achievements with the school is hard to follow as he produced three NCAA titles for Letran and 10 Final Four appearances in 12 seasons at the helm.
But there's one thing Alas is very sure of about Garcia.