Jeff Perlas thought that he was done with coaching after leaving Lyceum of the Philippines University in 2022 and taking a managerial position with Cetro Escolar University.
But on Friday, he will be back on the sidelines.
After a series of events that led to Chico Manabat’s departure from the Scorpions, Perlas has been tasked to pick up the pieces in the upcoming NCRAA tournament.
And for the youthful head coach, settling the team down by letting them move forward is his way of repaying the trust given to him by the Yap family.
“Siyempre after LPU, hindi naman ako nag-regret because I decided for my family,” shared Perlas as he left Lyceum due to the bubble setup NCAA Season 97 had. “After that, siyempre, we were thinking kung ano yung next sa akin. Nagtiwala sa akin yung owners led by Mr. Johnny Yap to handle the program. A year ago, nag-usap kami promising me nothing but be head of basketball operations. Sa akin, it’s a new role ito.
“May mga nagtatanong sa akin nun kung available ako but I wanted to repay the trust of the owner. They really didn’t need that position that time kasi pandemic nun e. Then nangyari ito to my suprise last December. Tapos they talked to me afterward if I can handle the team,” he recalled.
“Medyo nag-give up na ako sa coaching nun e because I was starting to enjoy the managerial role.”
Perlas formally took charge of the program last January. And the first order of business was to form a coaching staff.
Perlas tapped Rob Labagala, Ricky Reyes, Rommel Gador, and Chino Tan to be his assistants while retaining Robby Tecson and Rachel Santos.
However, a new challenge came for him as lead gunner Lenard Santiago, backup floor general Jhommel Ancheta, and big man Henry Agunanne left the school.
“Una talaga, since my LPU days, guard-oriented talaga yung sistema namin. Losing two of my key players is already like 25 points lost,” he shared.
Fortunately for CEU, Franz Diaz is returning to the team.
Besides, Perlas is making sure to focus on now and now the past, telling his players to “be their own inspiration.”
“I have to face what is in front of me right now which is to mentor these young athletes. Ang sabi ko sa buong team when I was introduced, ‘If you are going to think that I’m replacing somebody, don’t think that way. I’m just here to continue what you have started as student-athletes. It won’t be easy unless you open yourselves to the changes’,” he said.
“Minsan yung changes kasi you can’t feel the positive effect of it in the start, you have to be patient.”
Now returning to his first love, Perlas admitted that he has mixed emotions. But slowly but surely, he is getting his groove back.
“Everytime that you have this opportunity, it’s a new energy. Ngayon, I’m excited and at the same time nervous. It’s pressure also for me because there’s high expectations from the owners. Pero dun lang ako sa mga bagay na macocontrol ko.”