MANILA, Philippines – Out of the sidelines for almost a year, coach Koy Banal admits that he is a bit anxious ahead of his return to his old gig.
“There is a bit of rust, but it should not be an excuse,” said Banal.
Luckily for the veteran mentor, he will have familiar faces by his side, including brother Joel, who will serve as a consultant when Marinerong Pilipino opens its 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup campaign on Tuesday at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao.
Banal will engage in a coaching duel against his former deputy and now Batangas coach Eric Gonzales.
“Coach Eric is a champion coach, and more or less, he knows my style,” Banal acknowledged. “He’s been my assistant for a long time in Arellano, and we go way, way back.”
“That’s one thing where my anxiety also roots from – he knows how to lead his team and motivate his players,” he added.
Banal will lean on Achie Iñigo, Julian Sargent, and veteran Mark Isip to lead the fight for Marinero in their 5 p.m. duel.
For his part, Gonzales admits he has learned his fair share of lessons from Banal, that he is now imparting to his players in Batangas.
“He always told us that the will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital,” Gonzales said. “We’re still a rookie team, and Coach Koy’s team is built on veterans, so we’re just hoping for the best.”
Joseph Sedurifa and CJ Isit will banner Batangas in the conference-opener.
In the first game, Centro Escolar University starts its buildup for the collegiate season, this time under coach Yong Garcia, as it braces for the challenge of the always dangerous Wangs Basketball in the game which tips off at 3 p.m.
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