After a Cinderella run to the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Basketball Finals, the tournament’s runners-up, the UST Growling Tigers, have sacked Bong Dela Cruz
According to a reliable source closely monitoring the situation, Bong Dela Cruz had already been removed as head coach of UST’s men’s basketball team as early as Friday, January 22. Moreover, Dela Cruz and his staff are currently under investigation, according to Tiebreaker Times sources. However, the source did not disclose the case and requested anonymity.
The Growling Tigers resumed practice last Monday, January 25, said the source, and are being handled by the school’s Sports Science graduates and the program’s underclassmen to maintain the conditioning of both the Team A and Team B of the school.
The source also gave a shortlist of candidates that are being considered by the school’s officials. The three the source gave are Estong Ballesteros, Bal David, and Bennett Palad. All three candidates are graduates of UST.
Estong Ballesteros is the leading candidate for the position, according to our source. Ballesteros was part of the squad, mentored by Aric del Rosario, that won four consecutive championships from 1993-1996. He then played for various professional teams in the PBA before entering a coaching career. Ballesteros was part of the Growling Tigers coaching staff back in the 77th season of the UAAP before leaving the squad due to conflicts within the team’s management. He is currently an assistant coach for the Tanduay Rhum Masters in the PBA D-League.
If ever Ballesteros is appointed as head coach of the squad, he plans to bring in an all-UST coaching staff headed by Patrick Fran and Japs Cuan said the source.
Also being considered is Ginebra great Bal David. David left a huge mark on his UAAP career for the Growling Tigers, as he capped his collegiate career with a game-winner to sweep the De La Salle University Green Archers, giving UST the Season 60 Men’s Basketball championship. David then went on to have an illustrious career in the pros before retiring in 2005. The floor general went to Dubai for a time, before returning to the country and was part of the Liver Marin coaching staff during their campaign in the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
With a number of big name coaches in the UAAP next season, the source said that David is a big name that is needed by next year’s UAAP hosts UST.
Finally, the last candidate being thrown around in the mix is Silvestre “Bennett” Palad. Palad is the eldest of the bunch, having played for the Growling Tigers, then known as the Goldies, back in the 80’s. During his professional career, he became the MVP of the PBL once and played for various professional teams in the PBA. In 2003, he was named as the head coach of the Brunei National Basketball team until 2008.
The school has set a committee to screen the candidates and will make a decision as soon as possible, according to the source.