Wednesday evening, there was a surprising phone call that came Junjie Ablan’s way. He was being called up to coach the Arellano Chiefs, who had a game in two days.
A day later, fifth-year Chiefs head coach Jerry Codinera resigned from his post.
“Siyempre, nagulat ako,” recalled Ablan, who was Arellano’s head coach back in 2009. “‘Di ko naman ine-expect na mawawala si Coach Jerry, parang na-shock ako tapos nung after na, magandang challenge din ito to continue, lalo na kahapon, one day to prepare.
“Hindi ko kilala yung mga players, sa rotation nga ‘di ko alam sino ipapasok ko dito so talagang nakakatakot.”
It has been nine years since Ablan was with the Seniors Basketball team of Arellano. And with just one day to prepare for the CSB Blazers, Ablan did not preach Xs and Os to the Chiefs. Instead, he simply pumped them up.
“Sinabi ko sa kanila nung start nung day, bago mag-game, na yung feeling ba na opening game uli ngayon. Dapat excited kayo, full of energy,” said Ablan, who was part of Leo Isaac’s staff for the Blackwater Elite.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila, yung iba sa inyo, sigurado ako, first game sa NC ‘di ka pa makatulog sa gabi. Ibang feeling ba. Kasi baka sakaling ma wake up yung diwa nila, baka sakaling magising sila. Puro motivation palang kasi wala talagang time to prepare.”
However, the Chiefs received a beating, 73-89, to drop them to a 4-8 slate. And with Arellano guaranteeing him that he will be the head coach of the team until the end of the NCAA Season 94 Seniors Basketball tournament, Ablan plans to enjoy this ride and bring the Chiefs along with him.
“Siyempre excited, saka masaya kasi dito naman ako nag-start ng pag-coach ko sa NCAA. So parang homecoming ba,” gushed Ablan.
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