For every champion, there is a coach working tirelessly and showing immense patience to turn that athlete into one. And this decade, the country has seen numerous mentors, tacticians, and strategists stand out and make the Filipino athlete world-class.
Here are some of the best teachers, second parents, and kingmakers this decade:
Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao
The 2010s saw the peak of Manny Pacquiao’s powers. Besides the generational talent Pacquiao was, he had one of the brightest minds in the sport, Freddie Roach, on his side.
Despite facing giants in the welterweight and super welterweight division for much of the decade, Pacquiao easily took down the likes of Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, and Shane Mosley, among others.
Then there were his foils like Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, and, later on, Floyd Mayweather. Though some did not end up with victories, Pacquiao, even as he grew older, remained as sharp as ever thanks to Roach.
Roach and Pacquiao might have had a little falling out later in the decade, but just like any father and son, the two are back in each others’ arms to close out the 2010s.
Let Dimzon, PWNFT and FEU Lady Tamaraws
When conversations are made about Filipino football coaches who have made a big mark on the sport in the country, Let Dimzon is one such figure who deserves recognition.
For starters, the 40-year-old led her alma mater, Far Eastern University, to four UAAP Women’s Football Championships in Seasons 73, 75, 76 and 77. Under her watch, FEU became a perennial title contender in the said league and her exploits did not go unwatched by the Philippine Football Federation, which tasked her to handle its national teams.
In terms of international competitions, Dimzon mentored the Under-14 Philippine National Women’s Football Team to a silver medal at the 2014 edition of the AFC U-14 Girls ASEAN Regional Championship. Fast forward to the 2019 SEA Games, wherein the Valenzuela City-native steered the senior team to a semi-finals appearance. The Malditas narrowly missed out on a podium finish after losing to Myanmar in the bronze medal match.
With all these accomplishments under her belt in the local and foreign stage, Dimzon’s coaching acumen has done wonders for school and country. However, as one of the top coaches in Philippine football, she is not one to settle on her laurels. Expect her to be one of the key characters in the next decade.
Tab Baldwin, Gilas Pilipinas and Ateneo Blue Eagles
If there’s one word to describe Tab Baldwin, it’s ‘miracleworker’.
When the American-Kiwi tactician was named head coach of Gilas Pilipinas, he hardly had any players at his disposal. Still, that did not matter to him, as he led the squad to the Finals of the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup in China.
And yes, who could ever forget that gold medal game versus China right?
However, his stint with the national team would be short-lived, since he would eventually move to Ateneo. Instead of seeing it as a “demotion”, though, the world-renowned tactician saw it as a challenge.
In his first year, he guided the young Blue Eagles to the UAAP Season 79 Finals, but fell to Ben Mbala and the La Salle Green Archers.
A year later, he knew what he had to do — make the Blue Eagles stronger, physically and mentally. And in succession he knocked off Mbala’s La Salle, Bright Akhuetie’s UP, and Soulemane Chabi Yo’s UST to secure a three-peat — the last with an immaculate 16-0 sweep.
To enter the next decade, Baldwin has been called up once again, this time serving as the program director of Gilas Pilipinas for the 2023 World Cup. For sure, he still has more tricks up his sleeve for his teams.
Leo Austria, Adamson Soaring Falcons and San Miguel Beermen
Things seemed bleak for Leo Austria in the early part of the decade when he left Adamson University in 2013 following a disappointing campaign in the UAAP Season 76.
But that only brought him to something better. He took over the head coaching reins of San Miguel in the ASEAN Basketball League from the then-ailing Bobby Parks, then led the squad to the 2013 title.
That apparently impressed plenty of people, so much so that he got hired to be the Beermen’s chief tactician in the PBA in 2014.
And he did not disappoint, helping the Beermen win the 2015 Philippine Cup title and beginning a dynasty that saw them win the next four All-Filipino crowns.
So far, the Beermen have won eight championships under Austria, and show no signs of stopping.
Mark Sangiao, Team Lakay
Mixed Martial Arts, Kickboxing, Muay Thai
Champions are not born, they are made. This is the mantra Mark Sangiao has always told his wards in Team Lakay.
Early in the decade, Sangiao produced three UFC fighters in Dave Galera, Mark Eddiva, and Roldan Sangcha-an. Over at ONE Championship, Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, Roy Docyogen, Geje Eustaquio, and Kevin Belingon were making waves.
However, the mid-2010s was not kind to Team Lakay, with the stable suffering defeat after defeat.
But it was just a minor setback ahead of a major comeback.
In 2018, Folayang (Lighweight), Belingon (Bantamweight), Eustaquio (Flyweight), and Pacio (Strawweight), at one point, all held ONE World Championships simultaneously. Young gun Stephen Loman also holds the bantamweight crown in middle-eastern promotion Brave CF.
Outside of MMA, Sangiao also produced regional standouts in other sports as Jerry Olsim (69-kilogram, kick light), Gina Iniong (55kg, kick light), and Jean Claude Saclag (63.5kg, low kick) all won gold in the 2019 SEA Games’ kickboxing event. Meanwhile Islay Bomogao (45kg) and Alexis Mayag-As (48kg) won silver and bronze, respectively, in muaythai.
With the way things are going, Team Lakay will lead the next generation of martial artists in the next decade — and go even further.
Tim Cone, San Mig Coffee Mixers, Barangay Ginebra, and Gilas Pilipinas
All that Tim Cone does is win. His collection of championships has grown so much during this decade that it places him in the PBA’s history books.
He started the decade with a conquest of the 2010 Fiesta Conference, which proved to be his last title with the Alaska Aces before signing with B-Meg.
Cone then brought his magic to his new team, steering the Llamados to the 2012 Commissioner’s Cup.
Two years later, he led San Mig Coffee to the 2014 Philippine Cup, where he got his 16th title to surpass the late Baby Dalupan for the most number of PBA rings. The Mixers then swept the next two conferences of that season — becoming the fifth team to win a Grand Slam — and Cone became the only coach to have two Triple Crowns under his belt.
After five championships with the storied franchise, Cone then took his act to Barangay Ginebra. There, he ended the crowd darlings’ eight-year title drought following their conquest of the 2016 Governors’ Cup. The Gin Kings successfully defended their throne the following season, before winning the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup.
To close out the decade, Cone found his redemption with the national team during the 2019 SEA Games.
Ana Santiago, Adamson Lady Falcons and RP Blu Girls
From 2011 to March 3, 2016, Ana Santiago guided the Adamson Lady Falcons to a historic 73-game winning streak in the UAAP Softball Tournament.
But on one fateful day in March, the streak ended at the hands of University of Santo Tomas. It did not matter for her, however, as the most important thing for her was to keep the championship streak going.
Over the decade, Adamson won nine straight championships and made it to the Finals for all 10 years.
Besides the accolades, her program has also produced numerous national team members, including Dimpo Benjamen, Rizza Bernardino, Lorna Adorable, Angelie Ursabia, Riezel Calumbres, Lyca Basa, and Arianne Vallestero among others. And yes, Santiago is also part of the Blu Girls’ coaching staff that is ranked 13th in the world.
Patrick Aquino, NU Lady Bulldogs and Gilas Pilipinas Women
To start the decade, Patrick Aquino was called to coach a cellar-dwelling NU Lady Bulldogs squad. Little did anyone know that that moment would begin a women’s basketball revolution that would close out the decade.
From 2014 to 2019, the Lady Bulldogs would go on a rampage, listing every UAAP team as its victims. All in all, Aquino guided the squad to 93 straight wins — and counting.
Besides this, his squad is no longer just gunning for women’s basketball history. The Lady Bulldogs are just one championship away from matching the all-time UAAP championship streak at seven set by University of the East’s men’s team from 1965 to 1971.
Beyond the NU program, Aquino is also the one-man army of Gilas Pilipinas Women. For the men’s side, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has one head coach for the 5-on-5 squad, another one for 3×3 in Ronnie Magsanoc, while Sandy Arespacochaga handles the boys’ program. Aquino does all of those by himself.
And he has led to national women’s basketball program to great heights, promoting the program to Level I back in 2015; then leading the women’s 3×3 team to its first World Cup playoff finish in 2019, the girls’ 3×3 squad to a bronze finish in the 2019 Asia Cup, and, to cap it all off, the programs’ first and second SEA Games gold to close out the year.
Ramil de Jesus, DLSU Lady Spikers and F2 Logistics Cargo Movers
If there’s one system that has built powerhouses in both the collegiate and semi-pro scenes of the country’s volleyball landscape, the architect behind it would be Ramil De Jesus.
For starters, De Jesus is a no-nonsense tactician who took over the helm of the De La Salle Lady Spikers over two decades ago. Since then, he has molded the school’s women’s volleyball program into what it is today.
Through his rigorous training regimen and disciplinarian approach, De Jesus has steered the Lady Spikers to greater heights with multiple title conquests, finals appearances and Final Four berths in the UAAP.
There, La Salle would reign supreme for 11 seasons under his tutelage. Not to mention the pair of three-peats in the 2010s alone — the first from Seasons 73 to 75, wherein the storied Ateneo-DLSU rivalry penned its opening chapters; then the second hat trick materialized from Seasons 78 to 80.
De Jesus would then prove that his style of coaching can produce titles in the semi-pro ranks midway through the decade. His cunning mind has become the core of F2 Logistics in the PSL, where the Cargo Movers are perennial championship contenders ever since their league debut back in 2016, with multiple diadems to their name.
But beyond the golden hardware, De Jesus’ largest contribution to the sport has been the knowledge and winning tradition he has imparted to each player who has been under his wing. He shaped the likes of Aby Maraño, Majoy Baron, Dawn Macandili — to name a few — into caliber athletes that can represent the country with pride and honor.
Chot Reyes, Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and Gilas Pilipinas
Flamboyant yet charismatic; outspoken yet beloved. That is the man that is Chot Reyes.
To start the decade, Reyes was honored with his fifth PBA Coach of the Year plum after steering Talk ‘N Text to two Philippine Cup crowns and a Commissioner’s Cup to boot.
But the call of duty came knocking his way, with an invitation to coach Gilas Pilipinas.
After taking down the 2012 Jones Cup, Reyes guided Gilas Pilipinas to the 2014 FIBA World Cup — the country’s first appearance in the global meet since 1978. Paving the way for the appearance was breaking the South Korean curse during the 2013 Asia Cup.
Reyes’ second stint with Gilas might be marred by the Gilas-Boomers brawl back in 2018, but what he did for Philippine basketball should never be forgotten.
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