Ever since the NCAA Season 95 Seniors Basketball Stepladder began, Letran head coach Bonnie Tan had an army at his back.
And by army, it isn’t another collection of student-athletes to back up the Knights. It’s an arsenal of bright basketball minds and coaches.
Always on the sidelines helping Tan out and rallying the squad are Letran’s Special Assistant to the Rector for Sports Development Alfrancis Chua; Northport’s head coach Pido Jarencio, assistant coach Jeff Napa, and team manager Erick Arejola; Columbian team governor Bobby Rosales and head coach Johnedel Cardel; and Magnolia’s governor Rene Pardo.
For Tan, he feels incredibly grateful for the support he has received from his friends.
“In business you need partners to be successful. In sports naman, we need friends din, lalo na sa mga knowledgeable sa kung paano manalo,” said the first-year Knights mentor about his group, which is known as the “Monday Group”.
“I am happy that they’re supporting the team and supporting me sa pinasukan kong campaign.”
During Game One of the Finals against San Beda, Chua, Napa, and Jarencio were even on the sidelines helping draw up plays for Tan.
This included a beautiful off-a-timeout play with 1:28 left that saw Fran Yu throw a beautiful alley-oop to Larry Muyang that put Letran up 65-62.
Another moment caught on camera was Napa with a whiteboard of his own, drawing up a play for Jerrick Balanza.
“Sinabihan niya ako kanina kasi iisang play na lang ‘yung binabato ng San Beda sa ‘min. Nakaka-execute sila. Sabi niya na lang, ‘di ko pa ginawa. Sabi ko, ‘Kasi coach ganito, ganyan’. Sabi niya, ‘Hindi! Ikaw ang mali.’ Sabi ko sige coach. Ganun lang naman,” recalled Balanza.
The Knights ended up stunning the Red Lions, 65-64, to snap their arch-rivals’ 32-game winning streak and be on the verge of their first championship in four years.
Now on the cusp of a crown, Tan looks to continue brainstorming with his pals during their two-day break before stepping on the court once again.
“Again, friends ‘yan so lahat welcome. Brainstorm and synergy kami. May mga crucial games like this, na may nakikita sila and they point out something new.”