Coach Tai was asked not to report anymore -- Ateneo team manager

Mark Escarlote on Oct 29, 2017 10:36 PM
Coach Tai was asked not to report anymore -- Liao
Definitely he never resigned. I don’t know if his contract was ceased o kung he’s being kicked out. I don’t really know the reason -- Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles team manager Tony Boy Liao.

Tai Bundit didn’t resign, he was asked to not report anymore as head coach of the Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles according to team manager Tony Boy Liao.

Liao, who has been with the team for a decade and one of the main architects of the school’s successful volleyball program, told reporters on Sunday that Bundit’s status is still up in the air and cleared that the Thai mentor didn’t step down from his post.

A meeting between Liao, the Lady Eagles coaching staff, Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, vice president Fr. Nemy Que and Ateneo athletic director Em Fernandez is set Monday morning regarding the issue.         

“He never resigned. Tomorrow I’ll find out kung ano talaga ang rason,” said Liao. “Definitely he never resigned. I don’t know if his contract was ceased o kung he’s being kicked out. I don’t really know the reason.”

Social media went abuzz Saturday after reports of Bundit leaving the Lady Eagles after four successful seasons that saw him steer Ateneo to back-to-back titles in Seasons 76 and 77 and runner-up finishes in Seasons 78 and 79.    

Bundit replaced Roger Gorayeb as Ateneo coach in 2013, bringing in a new system that gave the Katipunan-based squad tremendous success. In his first year, Bundit steered the Lady Eagles led by Alyssa Valdez, Denden Lazaro and Jia Morado to a breakthrough title with an amazing championship run against a thrice-to-beat De La Salle University side. Bundit's signature 'happy, happy' and heartstrong mantra turned Ateneo to a powerhouse team highlighted by a historic Season 77 sweep.


Internal problem

Liao revealed that the team has been dealing with an internal problem for quite some time.

They had a meeting with the school’s athletics office a few weeks back to iron out the problem but was surprised when Bundit was told Friday not to report anymore.   

“Kasi after that meeting nga ng Monday, nag-training sila Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday according to coach Tai the training was very good, happy-happy,” Liao said. “Everybody was really training and after that training Friday bigla daw bumaba si Em Fernandez at sinabi niya kay coach Tai na, ‘OK today is your last day. Monday don’t train anymore.’”  

“Nagulat siya so di niya matanong why kasi nga (sa) communication (barrier).  Sabi niya OK kung ‘yan ang gusto ninyo I will not go to the training anymore on Monday,” Liao continued.


Friction between Bundit, players

Bundit turned the Lady Eagles into champion team not only because of his ‘happy, happy’ and heartstrong mantra but also by the Spartan-like training that molded Ateneo into a dangerous, cohesive unit. 

It gave them success especially during the Valdez era but it seemed that his style didn’t sit well with some players.

In fact, some even complained of his extreme training program thus the internal friction.

“The problem during that time was they were already complaining about the physical conditioning that Coach Tai was doing to the players. Para bang the players were complaining na ang hirap na raw ng ensayo,” said Liao. “So I was telling them na, ‘’Yung ensayo I don’t think mahirap kasi for the past four years Coach Tai was your coach. Hindi naman nababago ‘yung kanyang physical conditioning at yung four years na nag-coach siya we made it to the Finals. We were champions ‘yung first two years na dumating siya.’”

“So ang sinasabi ko why complain about it? Sinasabi naman nila kasi nga raw mas mahirap na. Mas mahirap na ang ensayo. Mas naging mahirap na. Still I told them, ‘Why would you chance a coach who has been coaching you and nag-Finals kayo ng apat na taon straight, di ba?’ Para bang I was telling them why change a horse who is winning, yun na lang ang gamitin natin,” the team official continued.

The athletics office learned about the players sentiments so they called for a team meeting.

Liao related how the team meeting two weeks ago went.

“I can’t remember what day it is ‘yung Monday na may bagyo na dineclare no classes. Nag-ensayo ‘yung team pero bago ang ensayo nag-meeting kami,” said Liao. “Pinatawag ni Em ‘yung meeting with the team. So nag-meeting kami sa Ateneo, yung coaching staff, myself, yung (athletics) office and the players. The meeting was about the coaching staff and the players.”

“As you all know nu’ng nag-PVL Collegiate Conference, yung team didn’t make it to the Final Four,” he continued. “Kasi during that time mayroon na silang problema na ‘di lang namin sinasabi. The problem that time was internal because it’s between the players and Coach Tai.”

Some players during that meeting were given a chance to air their sentiments about Bundit’s coaching style.

“Nag-meeting kami noong Monday na ‘yun so si Em Fernandez explained to them, ‘This meeting was called because sa problem nga,’” said Liao. “So ang ginawa namin noong araw na ‘yun naging isa-isa ang players. They talked sa kanilang sentiments, ano yung naging ayaw nila and ano yung naging gusto nila kay coach Tai? So isa-isa ‘yun. Isa-isang nagsalita.”

It turned out that most were complaining about their playing time.

“Mostly ang nakitang complain was madami sa kanila ang nagti-training ng mahirap pero di nagagamit sa laro. Pero sabi ni Coach Tai, ‘This team, this sport is not athletics.’ This is a team sport of which they should understand na hindi naman nagagamit lahat ‘yan. Just like in basketball, you train hard, just like soccer,” Liao said. “It’s a team sport na kahit mag-ensayo kaya hindi naman talaga magagamit lahat eh. Kumbaga sa volleyball hanggang siyam siguro ang magagamit mo, yung iba talaga on the side lang yan, that’s what you call the ‘second team’, reserve kumbaga.”

“But still ‘di nila matanggap ‘yun. So parang ‘yung iba we train hard, we get punished, nasasaktan kasi nga minsan nagagalit si Coach Tai wina-one-man,” he said. “So para bang, ‘Teka muna nagpapakamatay ako sa ensayo tapos hindi ako gagamitin?”

“Parang ganoon ang feeling nila to the point na ang first six pinu-push sa ensayo yung iba na ‘wag kayong umayaw, laban lang.’ Which was what was happening before noong sina Alyssa (Valdez), sina (Amy) Ahomiro ang first six, itong mga first six ngayon ganoon ang nangyayari sa kanila noon dati. Kumbaga parang pass on ‘yan eh. Na ngayon ito na ang first six, pass on na ngayon sa second team.”

“Ngayon ganito ang ginagawa nila sa second team, na hindi naman matanggap ngayon ng second team to the point na parang umaayaw na ang iba. Ngayon nalaman ngayon ‘yan ng eskwela na bakit ganoon? So tomorrow is our meeting,” said Liao.

With these developments and revelations just a few months before the UAAP Season 80, the Lady Eagles could be dealing with a bigger problem as they bid to reclaim the crown.

Bigger than losing top setter Jia Morado, who decided to forego her last playing year, hitter Michelle Morente’s transfer to DLSU or Kim Gequillana sitting out the season with an ACL injury.



Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles



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