GERRY Esplana has stepped down as coach of the Emilio Aguinaldo College men’s basketball team after a trying NCAA season for the Generals on and off the court.
The former PBA star made the decision after the Generals’ finished at the bottom of the 10-team tournament with only four wins to show in 18 games, apart from getting embroiled in an internal issue with management.
“Nahiya ako,” Esplana told Spin.ph on Thursday.
“After magandang season last year, ang expectation ko mas maganda, pero ganito nga nangyari this season,” he added, noting that they almost made the Final Four last year.
“Mahirap na mag-hanap ng iba pa na i-blame. Kukunin ko na lahat,” he added. “Bilang coach, kailangan tanggapin mo lahat.”
Under Esplana's watch, the Generals also figured in a bench-clearing brawl in a match against Mapua that was one of the worst in the history of the league.
The development was still a stunning turn after Esplana earlier expressed confidence the issue between the team and management, led by management committee representative Marlon Carlos and team manager Estifanio Boquiron, will be resolved.
[See EAC coach Gerry Esplana on Generals' internal issue: 'Parang sa pamilya, may tampuhan, pero naaayos rin']
Esplana, who ends his four-year stint handling the San Marcelino-based dribblers, said assistant coach Mark Mañosca has also stepped down from his post.
Esplana expressed gratitude to EAC president Dr. Jose Paulo Campos for giving him the chance to coach the team.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa top management for the opportunity," said the affable mentor, who endorsed assistant coach Andy de Guzman as his replacement.
“I still have high hopes for the EAC team,” Esplana said as the school, which is in its final probationary year in the country's oldest collegiate league.
“Hopefully kung magiging coach si Andy, walang nang maging adjustment at capable naman siya na dalhin sa pangarap na umabot sa Final Four yung team.”
De Guzman was unbeaten in two games in 2013 when he took over as Esplana took a leave to take care of personal matters.
“Hopefully ma-consider siya ng management,” Esplana said of De Guzman. “Given the chance, baka mag-excel naman si Andy bilang head coach.”
Esplana, who turns 48 on October 27, said he will still visit the team once in a while.
“Nakasuporta pa rin ako,” said the coach, who’s also the head of the job generation and sports development offices of Valenzuela City.
“Makakapag-concentrate muna ako ‘dun for a while.”