EVEN with a new coach and new players, Centro Escolar University is widely-expected to play well next year and sustain its long winning tradition in basketball.
Newly-appointed coach Chico Manabat knows it can be a daunting task, but he is not about to back down from the challenge.
“It’s a big challenge for me, but I”ll do my best (as CEU’s new coach),” said Manabat during the 15th Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) “Usapang Sports on Air” via Zoom last Thursday.
This will be Manabat’s first time as head coach.
The 42-year-old Manabat took the place of coach Jeff Napa, who was appointed CEU coach only last Jan 13 but resigned to focus on his job as one of the assistant coaches of NorthPort Batang Pier in the PBA.
Actually, Napa was the one who brought Manabat to CEU as one of his assistant coaches.
“Even before the pandemic, Coach Jeff and I were able to recruit several young players to join us at CEU. Magagaling din itong mga bagong players namin. I’m sure they can contribute to the team,” added Manabat.
Manabat said the team is already looking forward to competing next year in the PBA D-League and collegiate leagues, such as the NCRAA and UCBL.
“Our focus is the PBA D-League (where CEU won a title in 2014) and few more tournaments during the summer. The players are raring to get back to the playing court,” explained Manabat, who once played for the NU Bulldogs in the UAAP.
After graduating from NU, Manabat joined Napa’s staff in Nazareth School from 2009-2016 and Letran College from 2016-2018.
At CEU, he joins a select list of coaches that included Mon Jose, Egay Macaraya, Yong Garcia, Derek Pumaren and Napa.
Macaraya, however, holds the distinction as CEU’s winningest coach.
Macaraya steered the Cafe France-sponsored CEU to the PBA D-League title in 2014-15 Foundation Cup.The Scorpions defeated Hapee Toothpaste, 2-1, in their title showdown.
Macaraya also led CEU to three straight NAASCU titles from 2013 to 2015.
The weekly public service program is sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).