UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas stalwart and former MVP Mark Alfafara came to the defense of embattled coach Odjie Mamon following a disappointing end to the Tigers and Tigresses campaign in Season 77 of the UAAP volleyball tournament.
‘Wala kay coach Odjie ang mali,” said Alfafara as he stood up for Mamon, who was under fire for failing to bring the Tigers back to the finals as well as the Tigresses’ failure to make it back to the Final Four.
Mamon took over the coaching job from Shaq delos Santos, who steered the Tigresses to a UAAP title in 2010 and three successive Shakey’s V-League crown from 2009-2010.
But after the Tigresses missed making the semifinals for the first time in more than a decade, some sectors in the UST community questioned the decision to appoint Mamon as women’s head coach and called for his resignation.
On Saturday, Mamon officially announced his resignation as Tigresses coach, but said he plans to stay put as head coach of the Tigers.
Alfafara was firm in saying Mamon was not to blame for the downfall of the Tigresses, who missed the semifinals for the third consecutive year.
“Ayoko magsabi ng diretso pero lahat naman siguro may pagkakamali eh, alam nila sa sarili nila kung sino ang nagkamali doon,” said Alfafara, who scored a league-high 37 points in UST’s semifinal game against National University also on Saturday.
“Pero sa akin, para sa akin, kung ako hahawakan ni coach (Odjie), kung iba man ‘yung kinahinatnan noong team na sa akin ang mali,” he added.
“Kasi si coach siya ‘yung transparent na coach na nakilala ko,” he continued. “Siya ‘yung parang mano mano ka niyang iga-guide. 'Ganito ‘yung gagawin ko sa ‘yo,' tututukan ka niya.
“So siguro para sa akin, kung ako man ‘yung ano, kung kunwari naging walang silbi man akong player, na sa akin ‘yung mali wala kay coach.”
Alfafara, who was league MVP in Season 75, certainly knows what he’s talking about as he played under Mamon for his entire-five year stay with the school. Although Emil Lontoc was head coach during his first four years, Mamon served as team trainer.
The Tigers missed the Finals for the third straight year after winning the title in 2010, placed second to Far Eastern University in 2011, and missed the Final Four in the past two years.
But the 21-year old native of San Isidro, General Santos, said players can learn a lot from Mamon.
“So ayun siguro kung ano man ‘yung results noong mga ibang ano nasa player na ‘yun wala kay coach,” he said.
“Kasi sa pagkakakilala ko kay coach siya ‘yung taong passionate sa volleyball na parang magagalit siya pagka hindi mo nagawa yung gusto niya. Kasi alam niya ‘yung tama eh, hindi siya magbibigay sa amin ng instructions na ikakasama ng player,” he concluded.