THE Philippine basketball world was saddened by the untimely death of Bryan Gahol, who friends and former coaches remembered as a shy person off the court who will make his presence felt on the court.
Gahol, 36, and a woman companion died after the vehicle he was driving bound for Quezon City was hit by a delivery jeepney at the Skyway at-grade section on Monday night.
A former PBA cager, Gahol rose to stardom during the glory days of University of the Philippines in the mid-1990s where he was part of the last Fighting Maroons squad that reached the UAAP Final Four.
They Said It!
“Gustong-gusto ko siya as a person and as a player dahil matapang siya. In fact, nung nag-coach ako sa Mobiline, kinuha ko pa siya in his rookie year." Coach Eric Altamirano
He was actually a part of the 1995 RP Youth team that played in the Asian Youth Championship (now FIBA-Asia U-18 Championship) held here. Among his contemporaries in the team coached by Virgil Villavicencio, now MVP Group of Companies media liason officer, were Danny Ildefonso, Gerard Francisco, Paolo Mendoza, Ogie Gumatay, Ralph Emerson Rivera, Romel Adducul, Rensy Bajar, among others.
"He's a good defender and has good work ethics. Of course, he has good basketball skills," Villavicencio told Spin.ph
Tessa Jazmines, team manager of the Maroons during the mid-1990s, said she remembered Gahol as a quiet person when he was recruited out of Los Baños, adding he lets his game do the talking on the court.
“Tiga-Los Baños kasi siya. Nung kinuha siya, he was very shy and very quiet. He also believes in superstition, minsan magsasabi ‘yan ng ‘Makikiraan po’ (when passing by a molehill),” recalled Jazmines, a PR practitioner and BusinessMirror sports columnist.
“Pero pinapakita na lang niya ‘yung galing niya sa court,” she added.
Former UP coach Eric Altamirano also had positive words for Gahol, whom he had coached during his rookie year in both the UAAP and the PBA.
“Mabait na bata and very coachable. Undersized center namin siya at that time dahil wala naman kaming malalaki that time,” said Altamirano, who was the head coach of Maroons in Gahol’s rookie year in 1996.
That season, Gahol was part of a blue-chip rookie class at UP that included RP Youth teammates Paolo Mendoza and Ogie Gumatay.
Despite Altamirano leaving UP to coach Purefoods, the Diliman-based squad still reached the Final Four under Nic Jorge where Gahol’s squad became the last Maroons squad to enter the UAAP postseason.
Gahol also suited up for Dr. J in the Philippine Basketball League where he led his squad to an upset title victory over then-PBA-bound Tanduay squad backstopped by Erik Menk in the 1999 Centennial Cup.
Altamirano said Gahol was such a coachable person that he picked the UP standout in the 1999 PBA rookie draft when he was with Mobiline in the PBA.
“Gustong-gusto ko siya as a person and as a player dahil matapang siya. In fact, nung nag-coach ako sa Mobiline, kinuha ko pa siya in his rookie year,” said Altamirano, who is now the head coach of National University.