Coaching is in the blood
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2018 - 12:00am

It’s not often that a basketball coach never had the inclination to play the game on a competitive basis. But in newly designated La Salle coach Louie Gonzalez’ case, coaching was what consumed him since his late father Tanny exposed him to the art and science of calling – not hitting – the shots when he was only 14.

Gonzalez, 41, loves basketball but never saw himself as a player. His father was highly regarded in basketball circles. Tanny was secretary-general of the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines (BCAP), consultant with the PSC, assistant athletic director at the International School and Brent and for eight years until his death at 58 in 2010, athletic director of Lyceum. Tanny was coach at La Salle Zobel for three years, mentoring the likes of Jason Webb, Juno Sauler and Gabby Cui and piloted Perpetual, starring Bong Hawkins, to the NCAA finals, losing to San Sebastian in Game 3 of the best-of-three series in 1989.

Tanny, a La Salle Greenhills graduate of 1969, opened doors for his son and taught him the importance of sensitivity in relating with players, peers and staff. So that when Gonzalez was tasked to succeed Aldin Ayo as the Green Archers coach the day after last Christmas, he sought the advice of his “second father” Glenn Capacio and later requested for Siot Tanquingcen’s return to La Salle.

* * * *

It was Capacio, 53, who took notice of Gonzalez’ coaching ability when he was at the helm of the Feati varsity. Gonzalez never won a championship in seven years at Feati but there was something in his style that caught Capacio’s attention. Gonzalez actually got his first assignment on the bench as a Letran assistant at the age of 23 under coach Binky Favis. He also worked with Louie Alas at Letran. Capacio took him in as an assistant at FEU and brought him along to the Philippine Patriots in the ABL and GlobalPort and Kia in the PBA. Gonzalez also picked up valuable lessons in the staff of Junel Baculi at GlobalPort, Yeng Guiao at Air21 and Chot Reyes at the Asian Basketball Academy. Then, he joined Ayo and Capacio at Letran and La Salle.

Gonzalez said his exposure to the PBA made him realize the gratification of coaching at the collegiate level.  “In the pros, I was exposed to players who were already successful,” he said. “I try to teach the college players how to succeed and it’s gratifying to see the results of what they do.” Of the players he’s worked with, Gonzalez singled out Willie Miller, William Antonio, Kerby Raymundo, Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng as among the best. 

Like his father, Gonzalez is now BCAP secretary-general. He’s also a lecturer with the PSC’s Philippine Sports Institute. Gonzalez has been involved with Jr. NBA for eight years and the British School’s basketball program for 13 years. Capacio said Gonzalez is ready to step in as La Salle head coach. Two seasons back, when Ayo was suspended and Teng couldn’t play because of an injury, Gonzalez filled in to lead the Archers to a 97-81 win over Ateneo.

* * * *

Tanquingcen, 45, was in Ayo’s staff when La Salle won the UAAP championship two seasons back but left after the title run. Gonzalez specifically asked if Tanquingcen could rejoin the staff. Anton Altamirano is also in the staff. What strikes you about Gonzalez is his humility. Gonzalez listens to expert advice, like when he spent four hours with recent Manila visitor NBA legend Reggie Theus, and enjoys interacting in his facebook account with over 1,400 coaches who’ve attended his clinics.

Gonzalez started practice with La Salle last Wednesday and it’s since been all business. La Salle has begged off from playing in the PCCL and also requested if the Archers picked for the Gilas 23 for 2023 could not be named for the moment as the team is undergoing reorientation and reformation. In the team meeting the day before the first practice, Gonzalez said his focus will be on defense. “We’ll limit the scores of our opponents,” he said. “We’ll do different kinds of defense, including the press and trap. On offense, we’ll run only five basic plays, using motion and a lot of screens to create the best shot. Teamwork and discipline are essential. If you don’t play defense or if you force shots, you’ll be sitting on the bench with me.”

Gonzalez said his wife Cherry and four daughters Ann Louise, 17, Aliah, 14, Cielo, 9 and Kaitlin, 4, are 100 percent behind his new mission to bring La Salle back to the top.  Up in heaven, Tanny must be smiling and so proud that his son is following in his footsteps.

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