Jason Webb has been walking along the hallways of the iconic Araneta Coliseum since he got himself involved to basketball.
First as a son supporting his father Freddie, a professional basketball player himself. In 1997, the younger Webb entered the PBA as the third overall pick of that year’s draft class, and he would embark on a four-year pro stint.
Afterwards, he donned the coat and tie several times, working as an analyst for the PBA’s TV broadcast panels throughout the years.
In 2014, he was tapped as an assistant by Tim Cone, who was then the head coach of the Star Hotshots franchise. A year after, Webb was named head coach of Star after Cone departed for Barangay Ginebra.
On Sunday, October 25, Webb once again entered the venue, this time carrying the “head coach” distinction as he prepared for the Manila Clasico showdown.
The feeling was inexplicable for Webb, who for the longest time has been the one covering, commenting, and viewing the rivalry from a third person vantage point.
To be actually in the sidelines, trying to rally one side, making decisions, and being hands on, he says, is surreal.
“Very surreal. I got a text from one of my executive producers. This is one of the games I usually cover. Manila Clasico. Sabi niya sa akin, weird ‘no. Parang kailan lang ikaw yung nagcocover,” Webb shared after Star dispatched Ginebra, 86-78.
“Walking to the Araneta kanina, it is a different feeling. I’ve been in this coliseum since my dad played, since I played, when I was covering the games, and to this point. When I was walking, parang pakiramdam ko anak na ako ng PBA talaga.”
Webb never envisioned to get to this point, albeit being tapped by Cone in 2014 when the winningest PBA head coach saw the know how in Webb.
When Webb got to the podium for the post-game press conference, he even joked: “I don’t know how this goes ha.”
The Hotshots mentor thanked Cone for the break, and the two exchanged pleasantries after the game.
“I thanked him. It was very courteous. (Unfortunately) one of us had to lose. We just exchanged congratulatory messages,” Webb said.
Webb added he feels relieved for Star, which split their first two assignments — both under what he describes is the biggest stage.
“Relieved is the first thing you feel. I am just happy for the boys. Our first two games are games in the biggest stage. Opening then Manila Clasico, I am just happy they got of those. They worked hard during the offseason. You just want them to get rewarded at this point,” he said.
Webb walked out of the venue, being greeted by his colleagues just like the old times. But being the head coach now, it still felt new for Webb.
It will take some getting used to.
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