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Pat Aquino is more than a coach for Bernardino, Animam

Amid all the success they’ve enjoyed, Afril Bernardino and Jack Animam recognize the man behind their careers.

Both Gilas Pilipinas Women players and former National University members, Bernardino and Animam have achieved it all. They’ve won MVP awards and a championship in the UAAP, all the way up to bringing home the gold from the 2019 Southeast Asian games.

With all these accolades at such a young age, they attribute their development as a player to their longtime mentor — Patrick Aquino.

The man who started a historical run with the Lady Bulldogs by staying undefeated for 96 games through six seasons — for Bernardino, he’s like her ‘kuya’.

“Malaking tulong si Coach Pat kasi mas naging kuya siya sa amin.

“And kapag nasa court ka, magfo-focus siya kung paano ka niya turuan. Kumbaga matututo ka talaga sa mga sasabihin niya,” said the former Valkyrie Hatcher import during last Sunday’s episode of So She Did, presented by SMART Sports.

Bernardino was one of Aquino’s pillars for the Lady Bulldogs, winning three MVP awards and one Finals MVP during her collegiate career. But her favorite moment was back in 2015, during the 28th SEA Games, where she learned one of her most important lessons from Aquino.

UAAP-79-NU-vs.-DLSU-Patrick-Aquino-1564 Pat Aquino is more than a coach for Bernardino, Animam Basketball News NU  - philippine sports news

“That time kasi, pangit ‘yung nilalaro ko, tapos sinigawan niya ako, as in malakas. Tapos biglang tumahimik din ‘yung court, tapos sinigaw niya sa akin, ‘Ayusin mo. Hindi na ‘to NU!’

“So parang bigla akong na-alert na ganon, bigla akong nagising sa sarili ko na ayun, iba na nga ‘yung nilalaruan namin. Iba na ‘yung focus na kailangan mong ilabas sa game na ‘yun, ‘pag Philippines na talaga ‘yung nire-represent,” retold by Bernardino, a three-time UAAP Mythical team member.

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Similar to Bernardino, Animam agrees that Aquino was fundamental to them as both players and as people. Having played vital roles during those flawless five historic years, Animam shares that they got their own fair share of tough love when they were on the court with Aquino.

UAAP-81-Women-FEU-vs.-NU-G2-Patrick-Aquino-0526 Pat Aquino is more than a coach for Bernardino, Animam Basketball News NU  - philippine sports news

“Grabe si Coach Pat talaga.

“Yeah he [was] maybe tough on us on the court. Kung nakita niyo, sinisigawan kami sa court, pero that’s just on the court. Pero outside, ico-comfort ka niya, ipapaliwanag niya sa ‘yo bakit ganon, ano ‘yung nagawa mong mali na hindi mo naman dapat nagawa,” recalled by Animam, the UAAP Season 80 MVP.

Both believed that their team success was the result of the bond that the Lady Bulldogs had formed between the management, the coaches, and with the players. Bernardino states that Aquino treated them as if they were a part of his family, and even went as far as to check up on them when something seemed wrong.

“Siguro hindi lang niya kami tinitignan as players niya, siguro more on family na rin.

“Kasi siyempre, kapag nakita niya na wala ka sa mood or pangit ‘yung nilalaro mo, kakausapin ka niya na mas papakalmahin ka niya and gusto niya i-share mo sa kanya ‘yung mga problems o kung ano man gusto mong i-share sa kanya,” said Bernardino.

Currently, Bernardino and Animam have been changing the landscape of women’s basketball in the country as Gilas Pilipinas Women’s team players, alongside Aquino himself.

And as Animam says goodbye to the Philippine arena for now and moves to Taiwan to play for Shi Hsin University, she carries with her the life-long lessons taught by her mentor.

“Sobra ‘yung mga self experience niya, shineshare niya sa amin. And siyempre from there, parang nakakakuha kami ng learnings na ah ganon pala. Naa-adopt din namin ‘yun and sobrang laking bagay talaga ni Coach Pat sa amin.”

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