For the second straight year, an NCAA champion coach makes the jump to the other side. Jamike Jarin, who steered the San Beda Red Lions to the 2016 NCAA title, recently bid his alma mater goodbye after a two-year stint for a coaching job in the UAAP, reminiscent of Aldin Ayo’s shift from Letran to La Salle just weeks after leading the Knights to the NCAA crown over Jarin’s squad last year. Ayo became the first coach to win back-to-back NCAA-UAAP titles after the Green Archers’ conquest of the UAAP’s 79th Season last December 7.
National University (NU) is Jarin’s next destination, replacing fellow San Beda product Eric Altamirano, who coached the Bulldogs for six years. The scuttlebutt was that one of the Bulldogs’ managers was a former sponsor in the Batang Gilas team that Jarin herded into a first-ever stint in the FIBA World Championships two years ago.
Not too long ago, NU often found its men’s basketball team at the bottom of the UAAP ladder. But its fortunes turned when majority ownership of the school was acquired by the SM Group in 2008. Instantly, the Bulldogs became a force to be reckoned with in the UAAP. With a souped up recruitment program, the Bulldogs transformed into a league powerhouse almost overnight. Altamirano piloted the school to its first championship in 60 years in 2014. Now, it’s Jarin’s turn to whip the Bulldogs back into title contention shape.
Before San Beda, Jarin served as deputy to Norman Black in the Ateneo Blue Eagles team that had a five-year title run in the UAAP, from 2008 to 2012. And prior to that, he mentored the Blue Eaglets for 15 years, winning eight UAAP titles in the juniors division. Jarin took over the Lions’ coaching reigns from Boyet Fernandez last year when the latter was tasked to become the chief bench tactician of the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA. The 46-year old Jarin brought the Red Lions to the 2015 NCAA finals but fell short in the best-of-three series against the Letran Knights of then fellow first-year NCAA coach Ayo. But Jarin led the Lions to the 2015 Fil Oil Cup title, the 2015 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) crown, and the 2016 TIP Invitational Tournament plum before recapturing the NCAA diadem last October.
Jarin’s transfer to NU marks his third tour of duty with a big-time basketball program. Not known to many, he was offered by La Salle the Green Archers’ head coaching post last year but turned it down, paving the way for Ayo. He stuck with the school he went to from grade school to college, and vowed to get back the NCAA crown it lost to Ayo’s Knights. As promised, Jarin guided the Red Lions to an NCAA finals sweep of Arellano U this year.
So what prompted Jarin to make the big move? Surely, NU’s offer must have been too good to refuse. I mean, for him to give up the San Beda program, which is arguably the most successful basketball program in local college basketball in the last ten years, NU’s package must have been worth it. Moreover, Jarin might have to also part with the MVP Group being an assistant coach for the Meralco Bolts. But I’ve known Jarin since high school and the guy doesn’t need more money. His family owns a primary hospital in Quezon City.
If I know him well, Jarin loves a good challenge. After checking the NCAA championship off his bucket list, he has his eyes now set on the UAAP title. But unlike Ayo, who took over a La Salle squad that was the hands-down season favorite, Jarin will be inheriting a young Bulldogs crew and sans veteran import Alfred Aroga. With only a few seasoned cagers left but with an abundance of former high school standouts, Jarin is eager to bring his run-and-gun, 40-minutes of hell type of play to the Bulldogs camp. Add to the motivation the chance to return the favor to Ayo for last year’s heartbreaking loss in the NCAA finals.
Jarin is making an enormous gamble in his career with this move. But with great risks, come great returns.