FIVE-TIME NCAA champion Rommel Daep is happy to give back to the game.
A former star at San Sebastian who also had a brief career in the PBA, Daep is now based in the Albay capital of Legazpi City where he works as head coach of the Divine Word College of Legazpi's college team.
The 39-year-old Daep said it was difficult at first to adjust from playing to coaching, but now finds a lot of satisfaction in teaching young players in his home province the finer points of the game.
“Dito na ako nagtuturo ng basketball sa college,” said Daep after being spotted by Spin.ph during the Seaoil-National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) Bicol regionals in Legazpi over the weekend.
“Noong una, nakakapanibago dahil hindi mo talaga ito forte pero nung tumagal, nakakapag-adjust na rin,” Daep said.
With Daep as coach, Divine Word College has become a force to be reckoned with in the Bicol basketball circuit although the team failed to go deep in the playoffs of the recent Governor’s Cup.
Daep was a proven winner in college having played in all five of the San Sebastian Stags’ champion teams from 1993 to 1997, the last completing a historic sweep behind star slotman Rommel Adducul.
Daep was drafted in the PBA in 1999. He finished his pro career with Purefoods in 2003 and, after a short stint in the Philippine Basketball League, decided to return to Bicol and has been his home ever since.
With his current post at Divine Word, Daep joins some of his teammates in that multi-titled San Sebastian team that have made names in the coaching profession.
Among them are current Cagayan Valley head coach Alvin Pua in the D-League and Topex Robinson, who is the current coach of San Sebastian and is an assistant at Alaska Milk.
Even Adducul is now one of the assistant coaches of GlobalPort in the PBA.
Daep said he rarely visits Manila as he is completely focused on his job at Divine World.
“Bihira na akong pumunta ng Manila. Taon na rin. Dito na talaga ako nag-concentrate,” said Daep.
Daep was on hand for the NBTC Bicol regionals where he scouted high school players as well as support the basketball program where the best teams in the region converge for a spot in the national finals in Manila.
Because of his stints in college and pro ranks, Daep was a can’t-miss figureat ringside, often seen shaking hands with fellow coaches and fans when he watched the NBTC games.
Daep said the Bicol youth cagers are very fortunate to have the opportunity to have a chance to play in Manila against some of the best high school teams in the country.
“Magandang liga ito. At least, nabibigyan ng chance ‘yung mga bata na maipakita ‘yung talent nila. Kaya nandito rin ako para suportahan ko sila. Suwerte ng mga bata na may ganito,’ said Daep.