After a challenging season in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup, the Muntinlupa Cagers-Angelis Resort vowed to make some changes moving forward.
And even this early, they have found the perfect man for the job.
The Cagers tapped current Jose Rizal University head coach Louie Gonzalez to replace Chico Tirona and man the sidelines for next season, in the hopes of returning to their winning ways in the tournament. The signing was formalized last Tuesday, March 10, at the Romulo Cafe in Makati City.
“As you all know, the past season wasn’t that good, but with the new management and coaching staff, we will regain our glory in the MPBL,” said team owner Atty. Jem Sy, since their team finished 13th in the North Division with a 7-23 record.
“Louie Gonzalez is in charge now. He will recruit outstanding players that will contribute to the team, and we will do our best to get the championship next season.”
There really is no questioning the experience that Gonzales brings to the table, though.
The second-generation head coach knows all about winning, since he was a part of the coaching staff of the miraculous Letran squad which won the NCAA in 2015; and the dominant La Salle squad which took home the 2016 UAAP title.
He is joined by longtime partner Glenn Capacio as his active consultant. Meanwhile, Eddie Laure, Eric Dela Cuesta, Mixson Ramos, Ethel Tacorda, Jeff Mendoza, and Oliver Bautista complete his coaching staff.
“Rest assured, myself and my team will do our best para ibalik ‘yung glory ng Muntinlupa Cagers. I think MPBL owes a lot sa team na ‘to, in the first season they really made an impact,” Gonzalez said.
“One of the reasons kung bakit ganito kaganda ang MPBL [is] because Muntinlupa started it well. It’s a challenge for us na maipabalik ‘yun, ‘yung suporta ng taga-Muntinlupa sa team na ‘to. That’s the reason for us para magtrabaho ng mabuti.”
The team is planning to start from scratch, and will open slots for everybody through tryouts, including the leftovers from last season.
Asked about his vision for the team, Gonzalez targets versatility — a team that can compete with every style in the 31-team league.
“Sa ngayon ‘yung plano ko, we need to form a team that’s a little of everything. With MPBL, thirty teams ang nagco-compete diyan, iba-iba talaga ang style. You play a different team day in and day out. Kailangan handa kami sa lahat nun,” Gonzalez shared.
“Ang target namin is excellence. The opportunity now that we have, nagpe-prepare na kami. Nagkaroon kami ng maagang opportunity, and we would use this to our advantage.”
Story and photo by Christian Jacinto