La Salle coaches attend Spurs camp

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - La Salle head coach Juno Sauler and assistants Allan Caidic and Jun Limpot are in San Antonio, Texas, to observe the workouts of the four-time NBA champion Spurs and watch two pre-season games at the AT&T Center on assistant coach Chip Engelland’s invitation.

Sauler, Caidic and Limpot left Manila on a PAL flight last Saturday night and flew to San Antonio via San Francisco and Dallas. They return home next week. La Salle’s No. 1 patron Ambassador Eduardo (Danding) Cojuangco decided to send the coaches to the Spurs camp two months before the Archers clinched the UAAP senior men’s basketball championship last Oct. 12.

“The trip isn’t a bonus or a reward for the coaches because Ambassador Danding had this in mind even before the Archers swept the second round and strung up nine wins in a row,” a La Salle insider said. “He asked Chip to show the ropes to the coaches and expose them to how a first-class organization in the NBA works.”

Sauler, 40, said he’ll keep a close eye on Spurs coach Gregg Popovich whom he idolizes. “I’m excited to observe how coach Pop relates with his players, what he says before and after a game,” said Sauler who played three UAAP seasons at La Salle under coach Gabby Velasco then Virgil Villavicencio. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to speak with coach Pop directly but just to be able to watch him conduct practice and observe up close how he directs his team during a game will be an experience of a lifetime. I’m looking forward to learning a lot from coach Pop and his staff.” One specific area that Sauler will zero in is video coordination. The Spurs employ at least four editor/scouts to record, produce and splice videos for use by the coaches and players.

Caidic, 50, said he will focus on the Spurs shooting drills and determine if they are applicable to La Salle. “I’m also excited to watch coach Pop because we can learn so much from him,” said Caidic.  â€œI hope to figure out how coach Pop approaches a game, how he deals with his players, how he motivates them. I’m also excited to interact with coach Chip, my teammate at Northern in the ‘80s. I want to see how the Spurs adjust to different situations.”

Limpot, 41, said he’ll track Tim Duncan and the Spurs’ big men Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner. “I’ll watch what drills they do, where they position themselves, how they, particularly Tim, communicate with teammates.”

It’s their first visit to San Antonio. Sauler said he’ll be like a sponge soaking in as much as he can from the five-day exposure program. “In 1999, when I was coach of the La Salle women’s team, I went to the US with assistant coach Ren-Ren Cayetano and watched the practices of the varsity teams of Duke and Indiana. We even drove 14 hours to Duke. In 2005, Boybits Victoria, Art de la Cruz and I were brought by coach Paul (Howard) to the camps of the Phoenix Suns with coach Mike D’Antoni, the Los Angeles Lakers with coach Phil Jackson and the Los Angeles Clippers with coach Mike Dunleavy. I thought the Suns had the best camp with Steve Nash showing the way to take the practices seriously. Kobe Bryant was with the Lakers. The Clippers were quite disorganized and not too many of the players listened to Mike at practice or even pre and post-game. I remember while Mike was talking before starting practice, Sam Cassell was playing with a football in the gym and didn’t listen to the explanation of the game plan.”

Caidic said in 1990, he accompanied Great Taste/Presto coach Jimmy Mariano to the US to look for an import. “Ron Harper was the Clippers’ star at the time,” he recalled. “We attended their practice, hoping to find someone available. One of our former imports Michael Young was with the Clippers at the time. We were looking at Winston Crite, a veteran.”

Caidic and Limpot were teammates on the Philippine Centennial team that was coached by Tim Cone in 1998. Limpot and Sauler were teammates on the La Salle squad in 2002. Now, they’re all together wearing green.

In the 1994 UAAP Finals, Sauler played alongside Jason Webb, Mark Telan, Elmer Lago and Tony Boy Espinosa. With La Salle protecting a one-point lead over UST and time running out in the Game 3 decider, no Archer wanted to take the shot except Sauler who drove to the basket and missed it. UST’s Bal David grabbed the rebound and was fouled. UST regained the lead with David’s two charities. The ball went to Telan who launched a corner jumper and missed. Lago had two offensive rebounds and couldn’t sink the put-back on either. Sauler never won a UAAP title as a player but now he’s got trophies with the UAAP women and men. 

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