Wanting a semblance of continuity amid a turbulent off-season, University of Santo Tomas brought in one of Aldin Ayo’s most trusted assistant coaches Jinino Manansala as the Growling Tigers’ head coach.
And the former Growling Tiger — who played under Aric Del Rosario — feels immensely grateful for the trust placed not just in him, but in the program Ayo built three years ago.
“Grateful for the appointment. UST still trusts the Mayhem program,” he told Tiebreaker Times moments after the publication broke the news of his promotion.
Despite the scandal surrounding the “Bicol bubble” and the school, the institution still showed it finds that Growling Tigers’ system is indispensable with Manansala’s signing.
Manansala, together with Ayo and McJour Luib, resigned from his post as Growling Tigers assistant coach and Tiger Cubs head coach last September 4.
The school, however, has brought back both Manansala and Luib, having decided they are necessary to rebuild the Growling Tigers brick by brick.
Manansala knows that it will be a tough journey ahead as UST has lost seven blue-chippers in CJ Cansino, Rhenz Abando, Mark Nonoy, Deo Cuajao, Brent Paraiso, Ira Bataller, and Bismarck Lina.
“It will take team effort to rise from the ashes. Siyempre, we lost a lot of key players,” expressed Manansala, who built St. Clare’s NAASCU dynasty.
“Para sa mga lumipat, I wish them well as we focus on rebuilding.”
The 40-year-old tactician is also thankful that some student-athletes chose to stay.
Having the likes of Soulemaine Chabi Yo, Bryan Santos, Dave Ando, Sherwin Concepcion, Paul Manalang, Nat Cosejo, Christian Manaytay, Bryan Santos, Aldave Canoy, Joshua Fontanilla, and Adama Faye brings a glimmer of hope to UST’s future.
“Very challenging for the team, but we have faith in the remaining players. We are thankful for the faith the community has for us,” he said.
“Rebuilding tayo but we are not restructuring. May key pieces pa naman for us to use.”
For now, the challenge for Manansala is how to keep his players in top condition, both physically and mentally.
And he is taking it one step at a time.
“Online workout lang muna.”