Fresh from a blowout loss in the NCAA men’s basketball championship, the Letran Knights suffered another blow when Louie Alas announced that he doesn't plan to return as coach next season.
“Ganun talaga. May nananalo at may natatalo. Malungkot lang kasi sa last game ko, natalo kami,” Alas said when he appeared before mediamen at the end of San Beda's blowout win in Game Three.
Asked to expound on the “last game ko” statement, the multi-titled mentor confirmed he is set to step down as the Knights coach.
“Hindi na muna siguro ako. Time to move on,” said Alas, who added that he informed his wards of the news after the game.
Alas said he had thought about the decision for a long time, but is not closing the door on a return.
“Tagal ko na napag-isipan ito,” said Alas, who will submit a formal resignation in December. “Pero hindi ko naman sila iiwan ng basta-basta. Irerekomenda ko nga sarili ko as consultant kung gusto nila (Letran fathers) eh.
“Mga assistant coach ko marurunong na yun at kung babalik man ako, sa Letran pa rin.”
Against the Lions, Alas agreed the Knights were simply outplayed by their archrivals in the most important game of the season.
“We played our worst game. They played their best game.”
After forcing a deciding game with a 64-55 Game Two victory, Alas had braced for a huge game by the Lions, but he thought they had prepared well for it.
“We expected them to come out really, really aggressive, yun lang hindi namin nasabayan intensity nila,” he said.
Asked if the recent off-court distraction where he was threatened with a ban following his slit-throat gesture toward the officiating in Game Two affected his team, Alas refused to make a comment.
“I don’t want to talk about it (off-court distraction). Basta I can say San Beda deserved to win the championship.”
Still, he lauded his wards, who were once mired in eighth place in the regular season, for reaching this far in the season.
“Oo naman (masaya). Sabi ko nga sa kanila na 'wag niyo yuyuko ang mga ulo niyo. Wala naman naniwala sa atin dati eh."
Alas particularly praised second-year playmaker Mark Cruz, the diminutive guard who showed a lot of heart this season.
“Di ba may sophomore jinx? Hindi uso sa kanya yun,” Alas said of Cruz, who had a team-high 12 points in Game Three. “Kung nasama lang sa (criteria) yung championship series, dapat si Cruz naging Most Improved Player.”
“Nanghinayang lang ako sa Game One. Kung nanalo kami dun, wala na sanang Game Two. But it was just destiny. We weren’t destined to be the champion.”