With GlobalPort looking for a spark to turn their fortunes around late in the elimination phase of the Philippine Cup, the Batang Pier reshuffled their personnel on the bench and appointed little-known Eric Gonzales to take over the helm in their game against Barangay Ginebra.
And how did that plan turn out?
How about a 98-77 thumping of the crowd-favorites to pull the Batang Pier back up to 0.500.
Gonzales employed a killer tactic, where he kept all of his wards fresh and nobody passing the 30-minute mark on the floor, as GlobalPort ran the Kings to the ground.
“Yung nakikita namin, mahahaba ang minuto ng mga key players namin so we just kept them fresh,” the new GlobalPort chief tactician said. “Natuto lang ako dun sa ibang coaches. Ginaya ko lang yung delaying tactics nila coach Norman Black, nila coach Boyet Fernandez. Sinubukan naming gawin yung ginawa nila sa game na ‘to.”
The ploy worked wonders, as the Batang Pier outscored Ginebra in fastbreaks, 21-6.
But who really is Eric Gonzales?
“Teammate po ako ni Estong Ballesteros sa Ramon Magsaysay (High School),” the guy in the spotlight said.
Gonzales then drifted to UST. But he did not suit up on the hardcourt, and rather, was enlisted as an athletics varsity.
A track-and-field star for UST from 1992 to 1994, Gonzales started his coaching career by serving as an assistant for Binky Favis in 1995 with the Tiger Cubs.
There, he slowly built his resume, and would later spend time on the Purefoods and Coca-Cola benches. At GlobalPort, he served as an assistant to coaches Junel Baculi and Ritchie Ticzon. He also was a deputy for coach Nash Racela with the FEU Tamaraws.
Prior to this season, Gonzales was again called up to the Batang Pier bench by no less than team owner Mikee Romero, and acted as the lead assistant for coach Pido Jarencio.
Nine games after, and he’s the one calling the shots.
“After ng game ng San Miguel, nagmeeting kaming coaches and management. Dun ko na nalaman na ako na daw ang hahawak,” Gonzales recounted.
But he said that nothing’s final, and he’s just there on an interim basis.
“Sinabi ni Boss Mikee na as interim, hawakan ko lang yung team,” he said. “I’m just following the orders. Basta ako po, gagampanan ko lang yung trabaho ko.”
And he’s just ecstatic that they got the victory on Sunday.
“I’m very happy, very grateful to God and the management. Marami din akong natutunan kay coach Pido. Constant paguusap namin as coaches and yung panalo na ‘to, it’s really a collective effort.” (RL)
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