Ronnie Magsanoc committed to helping Ateneo return to winning ways
MANILA, Philippines – With all of coach Ronnie Magsanoc's success in the game of basketball both as a player and as a coach in the professional and amateur ranks, he is not done yet.
The former UAAP champion with the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in 1986 is returning to the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) once again. This time, however, he is taking his talents to Katipunan as an assistant coach to Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach Bo Perasol.
Magsanoc, who began attending the Eagles' practices last week, explains that fellow former Maroon Perasol gave him a call around late November to early December of last year and asked him to join the team. The Eagles are currently going through a period of transition and rebuilding after a lackluster Season 76 in 2013 where they missed the Final Four immediately after bagging the historic 5-peat title in 2012.
"It's a very new team, maraming nawala. May mga adjustments si coach Bo," Magsanoc shared his observations of the team so far. (It's a very new team, so many [players] were lost. Coach Bo has his adjustments.)
The 47-year old former primary playmaker for the Formula Shell franchise clarified reports that improving the Eagles' offense will be his main point of focus. He said he and the rest of the coaching staff are still in the preliminary stages of their planning for the upcoming season.
"Initial plan was about that (offense)," he told Rappler. "We have started observing two days of practices. So hopefully after next week mas malinaw yung mga designation namin kay coach Bo (our designation with coach Bo will be much clearer). We're just playing it by ear."
Coming into Season 77, the Ateneo squad will be bannered by 2011 UAAP Rookie of the Year Kiefer Ravena along with Nico Elorde, Chris Newsome and Von Pessumal.
With this lineup, Magsanoc hopes to whip up a winning formula once again to favor the Blue and White. Though he admits that with more or less 6 months prior to the new season, there is still much to work on especially for him as a newcomer to the squad.
"The sooner it is that we understand how things are run based on what materials coach Bo has, the better it will be. Too early for us to be able to assess everything."
Recalibrating for amateur play
Magsanoc is no stranger to the collegiate brand of basketball.
He made his amateur head coaching debut in Season 88 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) with a champion team in the San Beda Red Lions. He inherited a team riding on a back-to-back title run and bearing on its back the weight of much expectations to clamp on the 3-peat in 2012.
He fulfilled and even exceeded those mighty expectations as he soldiered on and led the Lions to their third straight championship in only his rookie year as a head coach. But it seemed that Magsanoc would much rather navigate the professional landscape as an assistant coach rather than stay in the amateur ranks.
He resigned as head coach immediately after Season 88.
But that's not to say Magsanoc is all but learned and comfortable weaving through young guns.
For the past year, all his focus and energy was on the Meralco Bolts for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Therefore, he admits he needs some recalibrating to acclimate himself once again for amateur play.
"They must have to understand we have to orient ourselves once again with collegiate basketball (because our) perspective is the professional viewpoint," said the member of the PBA's 25 Greatest Players. "Kailangan ibalik na na naman namin kasi hindi madali eh (We need to bring that back because it's not easy). That's the reason why the operative word right now for me is 'immersion'."
Looking back at his short but memorable time with San Beda in the NCAA and at the same time looking forward to a whole other league in the UAAP, Magsanoc says there is little to no difference between the two most popular local collegiate leagues.
"Based from the things I've seen from my experience, the game is just similar but I think the following, pressure, (and) fans may be different," he said, though also assuring that "these are things that we can learn."
He added no matter what league, when you're inside the court and the game is on-going, everything is pretty much the same.
"Eventually we will get used to it. The bottomline is helping out coach Bo and the team. Pag dating ko sa loob, pareho na kasi yung pressure (When you're on the court, the pressure is the same) and the desire to win, it's going to be the same game as we try to help coach Bo win."
From Diliman to Katipunan
This coming Season 77 of the UAAP will not only mark Magsanoc's first time being a part of the coaching staff for a UAAP squad, but also his first time to go up against his former university.
He says he will always be loyal to UP but stresses that he still has a job to do.
"Ito kasi trabaho 'to (This is work)," he said. "UP will be always be UP. It will always have a place in my heart. First time (for me) to be playing and coaching against them (UP) as part of the Ateneo staff in the near future. So it's going to be something different as I've said. But at the end of the day, (it's just a) competition."
But sharing the same Maroon blood with Perasol definitely played into helping Magsanoc decide whether he should accept the offer to join Ateneo's coaching staff.
"It always takes time to make any decision," he said of his decision-making process regarding the job offer. "But easy decision only because coach Bo is a co-Maroon tsaka pareho kami ng boss (and we have the same boss), si MVP. So when your number is called you have to be ready."
Fans of the Fighting Maroons, however, may have a burning question in mind. Will Magsanoc ever consider head coaching the UP men's basketball team, and turn things around for the squad that has last experienced a title when Magsanoc himself was on it?
"I'm coming in, we're coming in as assistant coaches. Plain and simple. We're invited to come in the program to help coach Bo and hopefully the Ateneo Blue Eagles resume its winning ways," was his answer.
He then added with a warm smile, "I think the Maroons are in good hands with coach Rey Madrid."
With plenty of accolades already attached to his name, Magsanoc is ready to take on a new role and looking forward to making things better over at the Eagles' nest in Katipunan. If things go well, he might just add another spectacular achievement across his name. – Rappler.com