When new Letran Knights head coach Bonnie Tan entered the SM Mall of Asia Arena Sunday afternoon, he sat on the side for a moment.
He looked around the packed venue.
Yes, after five years he was back to doing what he loves most — mentoring young kids and grooming them for the pros.
“Of course, excited and, at the same time, naweiweirdan ako na kalaban ko yung Lyceum,” quipped Tan, who was the head coach of the Lyceum Pirates for 11 years until Season 90.
In this batch of Pirates, only one student-athlete remained from Tan’s era in Reymar Caduyac. And the 5-foot-9 combo guard could not help but be elated to see the person who gave him his first break back.
“Kay coach Bonnie ako galing nun. Excited ako na makalaban siya.
“Nung nagtryout ako sa Lyceum, sila yung mga nag-alaga sa akin. So, kung makalaban mo sila, kailangan mo talaga bigay yung best mo para makita nila sa loob yung improvements ko,” expressed the native of Libona, Bukidnon.
“Masaya ako kay Reymar sa improvements. Honestly, when we got Caduyac before, yung utak niya for a rookie, pag pasok niya out of high school, pang line-up na e. Lumalabas naman ngayon na,” said Tan about Caduyac, who dropped 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists against Letran.
“Ganda ng program ng Lyceum na nabibigyan siya ng break.”
However, Tan and the Knights could not come out with the win, faltering late in their opening day thriller against the Pirates, 80-84.
Letran led by as much as six points midway through the final frame and five with just 3:37 left. Free throws and costly turnovers though cost the Knights the contest.
“We had some costly errors in the end-game, we had a lot of missed free throws, we shot 54-percent sa free throws,” said Tan.
“Medyo masama yun, di ko alam kung opening jitters.”
Still, Tan was proud of the stand put up by Letran against a fellow-contender in Lyceum. And this early, he knows what to tinker with for the NCAA grind.
“Siyempre, not that happy since talo but this is an eighteen-game league,” he said.
“We have seventeen more games to improve and be better as a team.”