NCAA 95: Coach Bonnie downed San Beda with a little help from his friends

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 12, 2019 07:59 PM
Coach Bonnie downed SBU with a little help from his friends
(Photo by Arvin Lim)

Colegio de San Juan de Letran had gone winless against San Beda University since 2015.

That all came to a close, Tuesday at MOA Arena, as the Knights upended the erstwhile undefeated Red Lions.

The last time the Intramuros-based squad had triumphed over their archrivals was in Game 3 of the NCAA 91 Men's Basketball Tournament.

In Seasons 92 to 94, they then lost all six of their meetings and in Season 95, suffered two more setbacks in the elimination round.

On the biggest stage and under the brightest lights, however, Letran came through and pulled off a shocker.

And so, the Knights drew first blood in the best-of-three Finals and, most impressively, dealt San Beda its first defeat in the tournament.

The man with the plan for that? First-year head coach Bonnie Tan.

Of course, the veteran mentor wasn't alone and in fact, had quite a collection of brilliant minds behind him. "Ang laking tulong nun kasi 'di naman ako nahihiyang sabihing this is our first time in the Finals kaya to get some encouraging words and pointers from legends and (former) players for a championship game like this was big," he said.

Part of coach Bonnie's staff are Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio as well as seasoned lieutenants Rensy Bajar, Lou Gatumbato, and Raymond Tiongco.

Even more were behind the blue and white bench as NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio and assistant Jeff Napa were also seen sharing their mind with players during timeouts.

And alongside Jarencio and Napa? Well, Letran special assistant to the rector for sports development and San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, NorthPort team manager Erick Arejola, Columbian governor Bobby Rosales and head coach Johnedel Cardel, and Magnolia governor Rene Pardo.

Coach Bonnie, ever humble, had nothing but thanks for all those brilliant minds at his back. "In business, you need partners to be successful and in sports naman, we need friends lalo na yung mga may alam kung paano manalo," he said.

He then continued, "Friends ko yan lahat so welcome sila - brainstorm and synergy kami. I'm happy that they're supporting the team and supporting me sa pinasukan ko."

Still, the Knights' mentor reminded everybody that their job is far from finished. "'Di pa rin tapos 'to. Although we have the momentum, sana 'di na pakawalan ng players," he said.

He then continued, "Sila naman naglalaro so kung gusto nila, kunin nila. We're here to guide and motivate them lang - the rest is up to them."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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