UP stalwart Gelo Vito comes home to LSGH as Greenies' newest assistant coach

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 19, 2019 07:52 PM
Gelo Vito comes home to LSGH as Greenies' newest asst. coach
Make no mistake about it - new LSGH asst. coach Gelo Vito isn't planning on stopping his playing career anytime soon (Photo courtesy of Gelay Davocol)

Gelo Vito had spent the last five years donning the maroon and green.

Now, however, he has traded maroon for white.

Vito, one of the leaders in the University of the Philippines' rise from bottom-feeder to top team, is now part of the brand new staff over at La Salle Green Hills under first-year head coach Karl Santos.

This is a homecoming of sorts for him as before being a Fighting Maroon, he was also a key cog in the Greenies' ascent up the standings.

Apparently, all of this had been prophesized - even though Vito himself didn't see it back then. "Sa UP kasi, I'm the vocal guy to the point na yung mga coaches dun, inaasar nila ako na, 'Pwede ka nang mag-coach! Para sayo yang coaching!' Pero ako, at that time, in denial ako na, ''Di pa, 'di pa tapos playing career ko,'" he shared.

He then continued, "There was a point kasi na, in my mind, pag-coach ka na, tapos ka na (as a player). Yun pala, hindi. It can be something you can do at the same time."

Turning the prophesy into reality was his coach from before he was even in high school in Coach Karl. "Right before UAAP 81 ended, Coach Karl asked me ano plans ko and sabi ko, maglalaro pa rin, pero at the same time, naghahanap din ng something extra. A few months after that, tumawag siya and naghahanap daw sila ng strength and conditioning coach for NCAA," he narrated.

He then continued, "Sabi ko, game ako as long as hindi mag-conflict sa laro ko. Si Coach Karl naman yun kaya 'di na rin ako nagdalawang-isip."

Indeed, the 24-year-old has taken the first step in his coaching career even while he's still suiting up for Imus in the MPBL - and even when he still played for Wangs in the PBA D-League.

And so, LSGH is letting him go after his heart's desires - whether that be continuing to love playing basketball or igniting a new passion for coaching the sport. "What made me say yes right away was sinabi nina coach Karl na we wanna help you na mapu-pursue mo pa rin yung pagsubok to make it to the PBA, but at the same time, makakatulong ka sa amin," he said.

He then continued, "Ang maganda kina coach is they're very understanding dun sa mga practice ko sa MPBL or D-League. Dahil dun, I make it a point pa rin na kahit hindi practice, I check up on the players."

For this, Vito is nothing but grateful to his alma mater and to his longtime mentor. "I'm really happy with the opportunity. Si Coach Karl, parang hindi na nga siya naghanap ng iba so naramdaman ko talagang he really trusts me as pwedeng coach," he said.

He then continued, "Sobrang thankful ako sa kanya kasi it's very fulfilling, coaching yung alma mater ko. When I see players get stronger, get better, nakaka-proud pala talaga siya."

The sweet-shooting forward made it a point to say, however, that his playing days are far from over. As he put it, "As a basketball player, siyempre, I still want to pursue the PBA dream. I wouldn't stop all of a sudden naman dahil merong ganito."

What matters is that whatever happens, Vito can rest assured that he can always come home to his alma mater and his longtime mentor. "For me lang talaga, napakagandang opportnity nito kasi I can have two careers at once. Pag wala na talaga yung laro, at least alam kong may mapupuntahan pa ako," he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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