Blackwater interim head coach Aris Dimaunahan was simply relieved as he overcame the butterflies in his stomach and did well to steer the Elite to a successful debut in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Sunday evening.
Dimaunahan, who played 10 years in the pro ranks from 2003-2013, admitted he felt nervous prior to the match. This is his first head coaching duty since taking over the reins from Bong Ramos, but it all faded away when Blackwater overcame Gani Lawal and Meralco Bolts in OT, 94-91.
“Sobrang kinakabahan ako. Siyempre, this is the big league, and I want to thank the management for giving me the opportunity to coach,” said Dimaunahan, who has been with the franchise since its inception in 2014.
“It’s a big help for us na manalo kami sa first game kasi this will dictate kung hanggang saan kami makakarating.”
Dimaunahan thanked his players for doing all the right things in the game that led to the win, including not giving up when the Bolts surged on offense and managed to build an 11-point barrier, 50-39, early in the third chapter.
“I’m just happy that the players stuck together, even though nalamangan kami ng Meralco, which is very strong with a very, very good coach, with Coach Norman [Black]… A contender team sa PBA, lalo na ‘pag may import,” he said.
“But I have to give it to my players, talagang they stuck on the game plan. Even though we’re down, they stuck together and executed our offense a little bit, and I’m proud of them for making those stops in the end game,” the 41-year-old mentor continued.
“They didn’t fold. I always believe in these guys.”
After Meralco, the Elite will next face Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Friday. It means another tough coaching battle for Dimaunahan, as he will face another legendary coach Tim Cone after going up against Norman Black.
That’s two Grand Slam coaches in just a span of days. But the former Ginebra Gin King is up to the challenge.
“Big test for a rookie coach. After Coach Norman, it’s coach Tim. I’d be more motivated,” said Dimaunahan. “We’ll see what happens. We’ll have a meeting with the coaches, and we’ll make up the best game plan possible against Ginebra.
“Hopefully, we can get another win on Friday.”