Basilan-Jumbo Plastic Medical Depot head coach Jerson Cabiltes did not have a chance to be under the tutelage of the late great Ato Badolato. Neither was he able to face him on the court.
But Cabiltes still saw Badolato as a mentor in a different field.
Besides being a head coach, Cabiltes also organizes youth basketball tournaments. And with the technical expertise of Badolato — who organized tournaments like the Fr. Martin’s Cup, the Metro Manila Basketball League, and Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup, the young tactician out of Manila would call Badolato from time to time if he needed help.
“Hindi ako nakapaglaro under Coach Ato, hindi ko siya nakalaban but he was a commissioner in a lot of leagues na sinalihan ko through Hope Christian,” Cabiltes recounted. “I have a high respect for him.
“Sometimes, tumatawag pa ko sa kanya to seek for advice kasi aside from coaching, nagpapaliga din ako. When may mga technicalities, nagtatanong ako sa kanya,” he continued.
Last December 23, Cabiltes was bestowed with the first-ever Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Ato Badolato Coach of the Year award — an honor given to the champion coach of the league moving forward.
“I’ll cherish this forever, it’s an honor that I can be proud of,” he said after steering Basilan-Jumbo Plastic Medical Depot to an epic 83-80 overtime win over Nueva Ecija in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational Final.
“I’m just honored to win this, na ako yung unang nakakuha ng Coach Ato Badolato Award,” he continued.
Badolato passed away last December 19, 2021 due to heart failure. He was 74 years old.
Chooks-to-Go, who has been tasked by MPBL founder Manny Pacquiao to take charge of the league’s basketball operations, decided to honor Badolato by naming the league’s Coach of the Year award to the late great moving forward.