Achie Iñigo needs to grow up fast, as he is tasked with a huge responsibility by the Kaohsiung Truth
With the Far Eastern University Tamaraws and the Phoenix Accelerators, Iñigo could easily take a step back as he had alpha males like Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Russel Escoto, and Roger Pogoy by his side. He, however, does not have the same luxury with the Taiwanese club team, since he is the only floor general the team has.
During the team’s holiday break, though, Lawrence was released by the team. Replacing the American mentor was Sabatino Chen, a mentor who is just a year older than Iñigo.
“Mas maayos siya. Mas detailed mga sinasabi niya.
“Yung coach namin dati, wala ngang board. Sinasabi lang backscreen ka dito, doon ka. Siyempre mahirap ‘yun,” the former FEU Tamaraw admitted regarding the difference between the styles of Lawrence and Chen.
The coach-player combination, as youthful as they are, worked to perfection on Saturday afternoon as the Truth picked up their first win of the season, prevailing over the Saigon Heat, 83-82, at the Kaohsiung Municipal Senior High School.
The one-time UAAP gold medalist finished the game with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, three rebounds, and four assists — eights points coming in the pivotal third frame.
But more than the points, the point guard provided Chen and the Truth the veteran leadership they have badly needed.
“Achie is great. He’s my voice on the court. We understand each other, we have similar philosophies. He actually helped me with the substitution,” Chen, who is also part of the Taiwanese National Team, remarked about his point guard.
Iñigo, on the other hand, shared that playing under his former mentors helped prepare him for bigger roles. More importantly, he believes that the reason why destiny brought him to Taiwan was to impart everything he has learned to the start-up club team.
“Siyempre sila coach Nash [Racela], coach Eric [Gonzales], yung experience ko sa kanila lalong tumaas yung [basketball] IQ ko,” he reflected.
“Baka nga kaya ako dinala dito ni God kasi may purpose para tulungan sila. Kahit nga dun sa dynamic stretching, ako pa nagpa-stretch. Wala silang ganun talaga at wala pa silang experience.
“Willing talaga akong tumulong kahit anong need nila,” he declared.
But the journey does not get any easier for Iñigo and the Truth. In less than 24 hours, they take on Alab Pilipinas — a team the Truth have yet to beat in two tries. However, the Filipino believes that they are now better equipped to face Alab than they were in their meeting two weeks ago.
“Nung two weeks na training nakilala namin yung isa’t isa, yung mga weaknesses at strengths namin.
“Bukas, kailangan lang namin yung mga ginagawa namin — yung hindi kami naghahanap ng one-on-one plays, walang hero ball. Kung ano lang sabihin ni coach gagawin namin,” he stressed.