The province of Roxas, Zamboanga del Norte has decided to tap one of their proud sons in Eddie Laure as the head coach of the Vanguards for the upcoming 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup-Mindanao Leg.
For the 43-year-old Laure, it was a no-brainer to accept the job since he was born and raised in Dipolog. It also helps that team owner Mayor Jan Hendrik Vallecer is a childhood friend of his.
“Unang-una kasi is taga dito ako. Pangalawa, ‘yung team owner namin, magkaibigan kami,” said Laure, who played pro basketball from 1998-2016.
“Siyempre, gusto ko din dito muna mag-stay habang pandemic tapos na-timing na nagbuo siya ng team. Ako ‘yung tinawagan niya at hindi na ‘ko nagdalawang-isip na kunin ‘yun.”
This will be Laure’s first head coaching job. Previously, he was an assistant at University of Santo Tomas, University of the East, Jose Rizal University, and MPBL team Laguna.
To help his transition, Laure got two veterans to serve as anchors of the team in 6-foot-4 bruiser Chito Jaime and 6-foot-3 Leo Najorda.
“Malaking factor ‘yung Najorda at ‘yung Jaime dahil tinitingala sila ng mga bata,” said the 43-year-old former MBA Most Valuable Player.
Meanwhile, scoring guard JK Casino has been tasked to lead the Vanguards’ backcourt.
Other players tapped by the Vanguards are Arellano Chiefs transferee Jordan Sta. Ana, Lester Reyes, Jordan Intic, Joshua Templo, Marr Rifarial, RJ Deles, James Castro, Francis Camacho, and Roy Velasco.
Completing the team is 6-foot-8 Fil-Libyan Seraj Elmejrab. Elmejrab last played for the Laguna Pistons in the NBL-Pilipinas.
“Sa amin kasi, inaangatan namin kumuha ng players dahil ayaw natin mahaluan ng players na hindi sumusunod sa sistema. Wala rin kaming star players,” said Laure, who will be assisted by coaches Edsel Vallena, Crisalde Reliza, Anthony Lopez, Garry Dulanas, Bert Tacorda, and Jhon Marmeto.
“‘Yung team namin, kailangan sama-sama talaga, depensa muna bago ang opensa. ‘Yung team namin lalaban ng palitan ng muka. ‘Yan ‘yung pinaghahandaan namin dahil malalim ‘yung field.”
Vallecer set lofty goals for his team, saying that he wants the team to compete in the finals. But for Laure, he is taking it one step at a time.
“Gusto talaga ni Mayor na mag-champion. Sabi ko nga, umpisahan muna natin sa practice at kung ano outcome nito, dun natin mage-gauge kung saan tayo makakarating.”
League officials, though, are still finalizing on the venue for the Mindanao leg. The ongoing pandemic has forced the league to start its Mindanao leg on the week of June 12-18.