WILLIE Miller said he has always taken pleasure from teaching youngsters about the game.
He got his wish on Sunday afternoon.
From the ever-present smile on his face, you can sense the former PBA MVP had as much fun as the high school standouts he coached during the Slam Rising Stars Classic, never mind if his Team Punks lost to a Team Hype side coached by Tony Dela Cruz.
Miller has for years openly talked about moving on to coaching now that his PBA career is over, and he insisted the coaching stint in the annual showcase for high school standouts won't be a one-and-done deal.
“Sayang naman kung hindi ko i-share ’yung mga natutunan ko,” said Miller. “Kung ano ‘yung na-experience ko na maganda, ‘yun ang maishe-share ko sa kanila,” said Miller.
[See Two years after his final PBA game, Willie Miller's life still revolves around basketball]
Miller, 39, failed to attend the practice sessions and met the players right in the game itself. But he was so enthusiastic that he even brought out the board to draw up some plays.
“Kailangan eh,” Miller laughed. “Hindi ko sila nakikita sa practice so kailangan medyo seryoso ka para sundin ka nila. Ngayon lang ako nakapunta tapos sa game pa so medyo unfamiliar sa akin.”
[See Incoming UP Maroons rookie Juan Gomez de Liano named MVP of Slam Rising Stars Classic]
The former Letran Knights star knew little about the players he coached except for Dave Ildefonso, son of his fellow former PBA MVP Danny Ildefonso.
The younger Ildefonso lived up to Miller’s expectations, while others like Troy Mallillin and Juan Gomez de Liano of Team Hype did very well to get the aspiring coach’s attention.
“Sa team ko, ’yung mga malalaki, si Mallillin,” said Miller, “tsaka ‘yung shooter namin napagod lang.”
“Yung big man namin, ‘yung pang-amoy sa bola, nandun,” Miller said.
“Si Dave, alam mong magiging malaking guwardiya siya,” said Miller, referring to the younger Ildefonso, who had seven points, and two assists in the game.
[See Injury scare for top San Beda prospect Germy Mahinay during Slam Rising Star Classic]
The Punks bigs definitely helped Miller’s team keep the game close, with Aaron Fermin of Arellano (14 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) and Karl Penano of National University (10 points, 10 rebounds) coming up with fine performance.
Big guard John Lloyd Clemente of NU (13 points, seven rebounds) and point guard Guilmer Dela Torre (12 points) and did very well.
Mallillin had nine points and eight rebounds.
Miller also saw the potential in Juan Gomez de Liano, the incoming University of the Philippines freshman who had 16 points and seven rebounds in the match-up.
“’Yung nag-MVP, nung last quarter tira ng tira. Dapat may ganun ka ring puso,” said Miller of his fellow southpaw in Gomez de Liano.
Miller said he saw his younger self in most of the aspiring ballers.
“Nakakatuwang makita ’yung future talent natin. Siyempre, first time ko kaya nakaka-excite. ‘Yung kabataan mo, nakikita mo na ganun din katulin, ganun kataas tumalon. Masarap sa pakiramdam,” said Miller.