WHAT he has done with the Azkals and Philippine football, Dan Palami will now try to do for the long-suffering University of the Philippines men’s basketball team.
The Azkals manager confirmed on Tuesday that he has accepted the offer to become the new team manager of the Fighting Maroons - his way, he said, of giving back to the state-run institution where he earned his accountancy degree and studied law.
"When your alma mater calls for help, you don’t think too much of the risk,” Palami said on Tuesday. “But you think more of it as an obligation to an institution that has been responsible for forming you and making you what you are right now.”
The 43-year-old businessman and sportsman from Tacloban could not help but see “parallels” between the current situation at UP and how the Azkals were when he first handled the national team in late 2009.
Palami recalled the time when the national booters, long before they were fondly known as the Azkals, held practice sessions in classrooms “na medyo dinadaga pa kasi may mga ulam na natitira” and had to ride in tricycles and jeepneys going to practices and games.
“Medyo it was a déjà vu, but this time for basketball for a team that needed help and needed support,” said Palami, whose railway engineering company, APT Global, is involved in the maintenance of LRT 1 and 2. “It was not really a difficult decision to make.”
Palami, who has led the Azkals to unprecedented heights, will definitely have his hands full trying to resurrect a Maroons squad regarded as the perennial whipping boys in the UAAP, having had three winless seasons in the past seven years where they compiled a measly total of nine wins in 98 games.
“I told them that I’m not promising miracles, but I’m going to make sure the management will be done professionally as what has been done with the Azkals,” Palami said. “And hopefully, sabi nga nila you make your own luck and create your own success by the hard work you put in.”
“At the end of the day, the players will be the ones on the hardcourt, banging their bodies and fighting it out with the other teams. What is important is I make them ready and maximize the potential they have. 'Yun lang naman ang pwede kong magawa,” the affable manager added.
“Whether we win or lose — of course (winning) matters — but as long as you are defeated, but not disgraced, that is something that I want for us to have.”