UST alumni, notable coaches want to head rescue mission for wounded Tigers
The UST Growling Tigers in this file photo Cagadas
UST alumni, notable coaches want to head rescue mission for wounded Tigers
Roy Luarca ( - September 18, 2020 - 1:17pm

MANILA, Philippines – The rescue mission for the wounded Growling Tigers is on. And there's a horde of applicants wanting to head the expedition.

Initially, the prime candidates to take over the spot vacated by Aldin Ayo were former Thomasians eager to repay University of Santo Tomas for their education and get hefty pay at the same time.

Siot Tanquingcen, Chris Cantonjos and Estong Ballesteros, all part of UST champion teams, were ripe for consideration with Tangquincen slightly ahead, having clinched PBA titles with Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel as coach.

He's also attuned to collegiate leagues with stints at sister schools De La Salle University and College of St. Benilde.

Cantonjos, the UAAP Season 58 MVP, formerly handled the Growling Tigresses and the Tiger Cubs while Ballesteros served as Pido Jarencio's deputy with UST and was also part of University of the East's coaching staff.

As the days pass, notable outsiders, like the PBA's winningest import, the former national coach of Thailand, and even current pro coaches have joined the aspirants, making the selection process harder.

Sean Chambers, Alaska's resident import from 1989 and 2001 during which he won six titles, submitted his letter of intent to the Institute of Physical Education and Athletics.

Despite his limited coaching credentials, Chambers is good at handling young players being the Dean of Students for Fern Bacon Middle School in Sacramento, California.

Chris Daleo, who steered the Thais to the silver medal behind the Filipinos in the 2019 Manila Southeast Asian Games has also applied.  A former mentor in the Continental Basketball Association in the United States, Daleo can be given the title of consultant, similar to what De La Salle did for Jermaine Byrd in the UAAP Season 82.

Now in Chicago, Illinois, Daleo is a prime mover of Tumakbo Basketball, which prepares Fil-Am players in their transition to Philippine cage leagues.

Lenny Reyes played in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Season before returning to the United States. Apart from being the coach of Piscataway Tech High School in New Jersey, Reyes founded Central Kalahi, which aims to help Fil-Ams wishing to play in the Philippines.

Another jobseeker is Aris Dimaunahan, who studied at UST and was with the Tigers' training team. He made it to the RP Youth team that ruled the 1996 Southeast Asia Basketball Association tournament and played for 10 years in the PBA. He was an assistant coach then interim coach for Blackwater.

Also in the chase is Chris Gavina, a former strength and conditioning coach for the Philippine Patriots and the GlobalPort Batang Pier before being named KIA assistant coach and head coach in 2017.  He is an assistant coach of Rain or Shine and head coach of the Bacoor Strikers in the MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League).

Like Dimaunahan, Potit de Vera was a member of the Growling Tigers' training team but never got to play with the UST varsity.

He was the former head coach of Technological Institute of the Philippines Engineers, who disbanded in May following the COVID 19-pandemic, in the National Capital Region Athletic Association.

De Vera served as head coach of the Far Eastern University Baby Tams and assistant coach with the Tamaraws. He is also part of the MPBL broadcast panel.

Sharpshooter Ed Cordero struck for 54 points with the then Glowing Goldies on July 29, 1979, a UAAP varsity record which still stands. He played for eight seasons in the PBA and was Atoy Co's deputy with the Mapua Cardinals.

Gilbert Lao, a 6-foot-7 center out of UST who played in the PBA, was a former assistant coach at FEU, Talk N Text and Blackwater.

Jinino Manansala was Ayo's deputy with the Growling Tigers and was supposed to handle the Tiger Cubs before UST's Sorsogon basketball “bubble” burst. He also quit his post when Ayo resigned.

It was with St. Clare College-Caloocan, however, where Manansala made his mark, steering the Saints to four straight NAASCU (National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities) titles since 2016.

These guys are talented and dedicated. They're capable of reviving the Growling Tigers, who are limping with the departure of seven players and the ouster of Ayo.

The Thomasians, of course, feel their hurt more.

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