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Jeff Napa proud to see Chico Manabat have his own NCAA team

From their days as teammates at National University’s high school and college teams to their roles as coaches for different squads, Jeff Napa and Chico Manabat have shared the highs and lows of more than two decades of friendship and basketball.

Napa and Manabat, who once shared the same dreams on the court, have now found themselves on separate paths.

Napa has taken the helm as the head coach of NU, while Manabat guides the NCAA team of Arellano University. It’s a bittersweet moment for them, as they navigate their own coaching careers while cherishing the memories they’ve created together.

Having witnessed each other’s journey from the beginning, Napa expresses his utmost pride in Manabat’s new role with the Chiefs.

“Very proud siyempre, kumbaga, ang tagal namin nag-sama niyan eh, so since high school 2010 magkasama na kami niyan, so at least, very proud despite dun sa nangyari sa kanya dun sa kabila,” said Napa, referring to Manabat’s departure from Centro Escolar University.

“So may binigay na mas magandang blessing para sa kanya then, we’ll see. Kasi alam ko naman kung ano ‘yung capabilities nung partner ko.”

Napa knows that Arellano University is in good hands with his trusted friend at the helm.

Their partnership has been a driving force in their coaching success, particularly during their time leading the Bullpups to three UAAP championships. Their bond grew even stronger when Napa, as the head coach, brought Manabat along as his trusted sidekick to steer Colegio de San Juan de Letran to a Final Four finish in Season 94.

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The coaching journey of Napa and Manabat has been characterized by twists and turns.

After Napa’s contract with Letran expired, he found himself at the helm of CEU, bringing Manabat with him to lead the Scorpions. Just a year later, Napa handed over the reins to Manabat, as he returned home to take charge of the Bulldogs.

Recently, Manabat secured the position of head coach at Arellano University, following his departure from CEU.

When asked about their fondest memories together, Napa finds it challenging to pinpoint just one. Their journey has been filled with countless shared experiences, and he views Manabat as a brother.

“Marami eh, marami talaga kaming pinagsamahan, kumbaga, dalawa kaming lumaking bata na hanggang sa tumanda, so kumbaga kapatid ko na ‘yan eh. Kahit anong tulog niyan alam ko na kung paano gigising yan, whatsoever,” said Napa after facing Manabat’s former team CEU last Wednesday.

Despite being in different leagues now, Napa remains unwavering in his support for his dear friend. He vows to continue guiding Manabat through the adversities he may encounter in his coaching career.

“So happy ako, buti na lang nandun siya sa kabilang liga para, at least, mapapanood ko siya. Pag dito kasi sa UAAP mahirap, magtataguan kami pareho eh. So at least, ngayon masaya ako nandun siya sa kabilang liga,” quipped Napa.

“Siguro ito ‘yung hindi lang siya nabigyan ng opportunity na medyo napa-igsi, at least, good thing really nabigyan ng magandang opportunity lalo ngayon, so ico-continue lang kung ano ‘yung magandang ginagawa niya.”

Napa believes that Manabat’s recent opportunity is not just a stroke of luck but a well-deserved chance to showcase his talents. He encourages Manabat to continue building on the positive impact he has made.

Written By

College student in San Beda University, part of the San Beda Red Sea Lions Swim Team, and likes watching anime

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