As the collegiate basketball season nears its end (the National Collegiate Championship or PCCL will be decided in a week), teams are already making the necessary alterations, from puny refinements to major overhauls, in order to boost their chances in 2016. This early we’ve already seen some of the most unforeseen coaching changes in the history of local college sports.
What kicked off this crazy coaching carousel was Aldin Ayo’s stunning transfer from Letran to La Salle in less than a month after leading the Knights to a king size upset of five-peat champion San Beda in the NCAA title match. This was shocking because for one, the Green Archers have always picked a La Sallian for the head coaching job of the Green Archers; and two, Ayo became an instant superstar in the Letran community after proudly steering his alma mater to the NCAA diadem in his rookie year. Ayo did the spectacular, as nobody really thought the Knights would even reach the NCAA finals this 2015.Immediately after the season, the Knights camp was already laying out plans for 2016 to cushion the departure of top guns Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal. But in less than 30 days since the historic championship triumph, Ayo was reported to have accepted an offer from De La Salle University (DLSU) for a three-year deal as chief bench tactician of the Green Archers. Ayo himself later on confirmed this, ironically during Letran’s victory celebration.
Not too many people know that the DLSU top coaching post was first offered to San Beda Red Lions chief mentor Jamike Jarin, immediately after Juno Sauler tendered his resignation with the Green Archers. But the former Batang Gilas head coach, a San Beda product from elementary to college, declined the offer. Two weeks after losing to Ayo and the Knights, Jarin got the surprising call from the Archers’ management. It was surprising because everybody expected someone from either the DLSU coaching staff or the SMC Group to take over from Sauler, and not somebody from the rival MVP Group. Jarin previously coached the Ateneo Blue Eaglets and is a current deputy at the Meralco Bolts PBA team. Many thought Green Archers assistant and long-time SMC Group coach Siot Tanquingcen would replace Sauler.
As the Letran community was deeply saddened by the turn of events, some DLSU alumni groups were also up in arms about the decision to hire a non-La Sallian. Most of them were hoping that former Archers guru Franz Pumarenwill make a comeback. After all, he was the author of five UAAP championships for La Salle, including four straight from 1998 to 2001. But as the Green Archers management opted for Ayo, the Adamson Falcons seized the opportunity to tap Pumaren as new head coach, which the latter accepted. Franz will be bringing along former La Salle greats Renren Ritualo and Don Allado as deputies.
But the Ateneo Blue Eagles came out with the biggest surprise of all by announcing that Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin would take over from Bo Perasol. Nobody really saw this coming as the American-Kiwi was focusing on preparations for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year. Baldwin’s credentials make him over qualified to coach in the UAAP. He led New Zealand to the semis of the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis. He has also coached the National teams of Lebanon and Jordan to respectable finishes in major FIBA competitions.
But Baldwin’s appointment as new Blue Eagles coach hit a snag after the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BCAP) reminded about a court ruling that prohibits foreigners from coaching a local team. If such ruling is upheld, Baldwin will be probably calling the shots under the guise of a team consultant title, like other foreign coaches did in the recent past.
But the madness isn’t over yet. Just a month after leading the University of San Carlos to its first CESAFI title in 54 years, Britt Reroma was sacked as head coach after reportedly taking a short-term coaching job in Malaysia without informing the school. Reroma was a former three-time NCAA Juniors champion coach with San Beda.
I won’t be surprised if other coaching changes are announced soon. There are talks of possible changes as well in NCAA teams San Sebastian, Jose Rizal, Emilio Aguinaldo and Perpetual Help.