COACH Boyet Fernandez can now breathe easier after steering San Beda to the top of the NCAA men’s basketball mountain.
The pressure on Fernandez had been tremendous after taking over from Ronnie Magsanoc, who guided the Lions to the title right in his first and only year at the helm.
But the veteran coach lived up to expectations and the Red Lions bagged their fourth straight title, seventh over the last eight years, and 18th championship overall with victory in three games over Letran in the title series.
“Dati lagpas-tao yung pressure. Ngayon tanggal na lahat,” the 42-year-old Lions coach said. “Nawawala na stiff neck ko, nawawala na sakit ng ulo ko.”
Fernandez could not afford another bridesmaid finish after another team he coached in the PBA D-League, NLEX, lost to Blackwater in a two-game sweep in the Finals of the Foundation Cup last June.
The surprise loss left the powerhouse Manny V. Pangilinan-owned Road Warriors as runner-up for the first time in five conferences.
Fernandez’s feat means his job with the Lions is secure — his contract expires in 2015 — although he noted that he serves at the pleasure of the top brass of the San Beda sports program.
“I will not be one and done, but my tenure in San Beda is up to boss MVP and the San Beda fathers.”
“I just have to enjoy this one and look forward to another year.”
Fernandez has now won as a coach in every level, completing a hat-trick in the PBA with Sta. Lucia, D-League, and NCAA.
“I’m so blessed. And I thank God for that,” said Fernandez, who now has six coaching titles, including four with NLEX.
“But come to think of it, it’s all because of my players,” he was quick to add. “I wouldn’t be winning championships if not for my players, so I give credit to them as well as my coaching staff.”
And apart from luck, Fernandez credits his success to hard work.
“It’s all about work ethic. Sa totoo lang, hindi naman ako magaling na coach eh. And I really don’t want to lose, so I always come to the games prepared.”
He admitted he wasn’t ready when he handled University of the Philippines in 2010. Originally hired as a consultant, Fernandez took over when head coach Aboy Castro resigned in the middle of the season. The Maroons went winless in a 14-game stint.
“I’m not ashamed of my record in the UAAP. Yung UP experience ko really helped me a lot.”
Now, the work doesn’t stop for Fernandez as he tries to lead NLEX back to the top of the D-League.
“With all the sacrifices my family has been experiencing when I coach, I credit the Lord for giving me the health, and the family who can understand the situation that I’m in.”