From today, I just need to count 31 days before the opening day of the 85th offering of the NCAA collegiate basketball wars. As my alma mater is about to take centerstage as season host and three-peat defending champion, the supremacy of the San Beda Red Lions is, more now than ever before, questioned and threatened. Even before the season has even started, online forums have asked for the head of the head coach! The sub-par performance of the Red Lions in the ongoing off-season tourneys have prompted Bedan diehards to strongly criticize the competence and efficiency of the coaching staff, basketball program and recruitment system.
After a long tedious browse over these forums about the Red Lions, I let off a heavy sigh and say to myself, I have to release all this tension. As an avid fan, of course I have something to say! But to me, there are but two crucial coin tosses that will determine the fate of the Red Lions campaign this season. Those which involve these two, Frankie Lim and Ogie Menor.
TO GET OR NOT TO GET OGIE MENOR BACK
In my post, Dear Ogie, I sent out a farewell note to Lionheart stalwart Rogemar Menor as he bid goodbye to the San Beda Red Lions and forewent his final year of eligibility. But weeks away from season opening, after the unsuccessful PBL campaign of Magnolia where Ogie was lined up, it looks like that farewell is yet to be cast in stone. From what appears to be a still incomplete lineup of the Red Lions in the upcoming season, could it be that a small flicker of hope remains to see Ogie Menor don the red and white one last time??
True, Ogie resigned from the team when he opted to play in the PBL, despite the opposition of the RL coaching staff as a matter of policy.
True also that Ogie listlessly declined to join the RP Smart Gilas team, disappointing top Bedan patron Manny Pangilinan and Gilas coach Rajko Toroman, as well as his Bedan elders.
True that it was proper to stand by the coaching staff policy and apply it uniformly to all players. That being a college superstar does not distinguish you from all your other teammates. That standing up for this decision was the right thing to do.
After the series of pre-season games, one thing is evident. The team is without a spirited leader, without a firestarter.
Due to the heavy minutes given to the highly talented and reliable first five of the last three years, almost everybody else hasn’t stepped out of their off-the-bench mode. Until now.
Despite his shortcomings, his tendency to make ill-advised shots and turnovers, Ogie Menor is battle tested. When everybody else’s knees are shaking in crunchtime, he has his palms open wide to receive the ball and take that last shot.
If, in the event, Ogie repents and asks for forgiveness, will San Beda open the door to its prodigal son? To that prodigal son who grew up and blossomed within the confines of the Lions’ Den. To that prodigal son who has given the school the best playing years of his life. In the spirit of honest recognition of humble service and true brotherhood, will you deprive this loyal warrior of his last chance to make it to the big league?
On this coin toss, I cross my fingers… TAILS.
FRANKIE RESIGN?!? (OH NO, NOT AGAIN!!!!)
Calls for Frankie to resign or step down has been as frequent as calls to impeach Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Maybe even more!
Since he assumed this post in early 2007, his inadequacies have been all too often pointed out. I admit my bias for Coach Frankie, but here I will try to substantiate both sides.
True, Frankie Lim is not that coach to discover a gem in the rough. He does not excel in developing an RJ Jazul, Jason Ballesteros or JR Sena. To him the initiative to develop must come from the player. If he wants you on his team, he is too impatient for you to deliver next season or two years from now. For him, you deliver, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. Yes, he is first and foremost a team manager, not your storybook college basketball coach.
True, Frankie Lim has perhaps the biggest ego in the entire of the NCAA. He has displayed this ego many times for us to see.
True also that he has foregone some talents who have knocked on the door of San Beda, let them go to other teams instead of them lingering in his training pool. Some exits were more heartbreaking than others, but yes, these let-go’s might have composed the most potent Team Behold since the Ekwe and Escobal team of 2005.
Two-time coach of the year. Two championship rings. To attribute all the success to his players I guess is utter disrespect to what this man has achieved.
A superstar laden team is a huge group of egos. Who gets the most ball touches? Who ends up shooting the ball? Keeping this boat afloat is not a piece of cake. To hold this team together, you have got to have the biggest ego of all.
Amidst the dirty tricks and scandals of Season 84, if not for the presence and persistence of Lim and his coaching staff, that title would have slipped out of our hands. Seriously.
Despite having MVP as the main financier of the Red Lions, believe me, San Beda doesnt have the deepest pockets in the basketball world. You cannot keep all the blue chip talents in your own bag. At times, you will be constrained to let some go and find their rightful place in another team. In some of those times, your gut instinct will be wrong. When you see those talents that used to be at your disposal, shining in other teams, you scratch your head in regret but, at the same time, be happy for their success. That’s life, pare.
Lastly, despite the glitz and glamour of being San Beda champion coach, it is perhaps the next most thankless job in the league, next to being a referee. You win, the winning margin should be larger. You lose, it’s all your freaking fault. Perhaps, every other Bedan wishes he had your job. But seriously, it was never a walk in the park, amidst all these basketball diehards. I guess it is just the ambition that will drive you, maybe your competitive spirit, or maybe your love of school.
Many things have been said in this ongoing saga of the Frankie Resign Movement. But in this coin toss, I call out TAILS.
I admit I do not know all that happened in the cases of Frankie and Ogie, but who does?? These two personalities came as the incomplete packages that they are, but time and again, they have delivered the goods for their Alma Mater and for us, their Bedan brothers and sisters. They are what they are and who they are, whether we like them or not. In the same way, everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. Love them, hate them. Proceed as you wish.
To every coin lie two sides. In these tosses, what’s your call? Heads or tails?
Go San Beda Fight!