A letter to Bong dela Cruz

Anthony Divinagracia on Nov 26, 2015 10:12 PM
A letter to Bong dela Cruz
On Saturday, it’s time to prove something again, if only to keep your family – the UST family that is – smiling and hoping that 2006 will happen all over again...

Dear Coach Bong,

It hurts.

I know you and the rest of the team as well as the entire UST community feel the same after the Tamaraws raided the Tigers’ lair last Wednesday.

That raid left a thousand casualties – broken hearts, ranting minds (and keyboards) and perhaps teary eyes. But what was more alarming was the spawn of Doubting Thomases that emerged from the rubble. Despite one paw again in the runner-up grave, the Tigers remain unfazed.

“Babawi kami,” as you said after the game. Good to hear that. Honestly I didn’t bother listening to your dull post-game interviews. For wins, it sounded like this: “Pinakita ng mga bata ang kanilang puso. Ayaw nila matalo. Gusto nila Manalo. Nagtrabaho sila nang maigi. Dumepensa sila ng maayos.”

Yesterday it was the opposite (or words to this effect).

“Nawala yung puso nila. Hindi sila nakadepensa nang maayos. Nag-struggle kami. Marami pa kaming dapat ayusin.”

To a fan, these words are fine. You are not a politician and interviews are not campaign speeches nor oratorical contests. You can be a good, err champion, coach without being glib or eloquent. It’s always better to let your coaching do the talking. The in-your-face motivation, X and O, and Alvin Patrimonio have definitely added more vocabulary and expression to your coaching. But coach, kindly consider these observations from a simple, foolish, less-knowing pundit.

One, let Ed Daquioag play his usual game – the one that has made him “Ed Daquioag” this season. We both know what I’m talking about. While I honestly believe he’s not a “biyahe” boy, Father Ed’s numbers significantly dipped after a series of explosive games. He’s been checked and scouted well by opposing teams and it would not help if he continues to do the ball-handling duties for a point-guard heavy UST rotation. Shifty and energetic as he is, still the bump and grind of negotiating half-court presses and pesky on-ball defenders every now and then drains Daquioag. And by the time he starts finding his shots, Father Ed may end up throwing prayers with muted Hail Marys in the background, just like in Game 1. So please coach, put John Sheriff back in the starting lineup. Besides, it won’t be free-throw shooting time until the final quarter and FEU is not stupid to do a “Hack-a-Sheriff” early in the game.

Two, make Louie Vigil your sixth man. We know you have a shallow bench compared to FEU, which lets its best guard Mike Tolomia come off the bench to spell depth and additional firepower. Putting an upstart Mario Bonleon in the first group won’t hurt with the former national youth team mainstay proving in the past that he is up to the task of both scoring and defending. Vigil, with his talent and experience, can definitely give UST more upside from the rails and give the dependable Bonleon more confidence.

And three, don’t let Karim Abdul and Kevin Ferrer jump on their own underneath. Loose translation: Gang rebound.

In between drawbacks and comebacks, some quarters wished Pido Jarencio was there beside you. But come to think of it, Pido never left the UST bench. He continues to live in every one of you. You actually “sounded” like him, win or lose, like a broken record – save for a few wise-cracking, cocksure lines that never ceases to elicit laughter from the press.

Pido’s (approximated) staple post-win opening salvo?

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa UST community, sa mga estudyante, alumni, at mga kaparian. Trinabaho talaga namin ito para sa inyo. Ginamit lang namin yung 3Ps – pride, puso, palaban. Ayos ba?”

But Pido is Pido. And you are Bong dela Cruz, perhaps his most dependable lieutenant when he was still at the Tigers’ helm that he even personally endorsed you as his successor amid a welter of choices in Siot Tanquincen, Bal David, Al Francis Chua, Gerard Francisco – and what have you – Aric del Rosario.

Simply put, the PBA’s “Fireman” believes in you. He believes with all unflappable pride, puso, and (being) palaban combined that you can ironically keep the fire burning and finally roast the opposition for (championship) dinner. Pido’s unfinished business (after back-to-back bridesmaid finishes) is now your business.

Looking back, others didn’t readily agree that you are the man for the job, judging from last year’s record. But you have proven them wrong this season, at least in the eliminations. On Saturday, it’s time to prove something again, if only to keep your family – the UST family that is – smiling and hoping that 2006 will happen all over again, that nine years is enough, that Bong dela Cruz and the Tigers are for real.

Hope you’ll have time to read this.



From someone who used to study in UST

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