MANILA, Philippines – New Arellano University head coach Jerry Codiñera hopes to accomplish what two other coaches before him have failed to do – lead the Chiefs to the Final Four of the NCAA.
Codiñera will be the third man, after Leo Isaac and Koy Banal, to coach Arellano since the school entered the league five years ago.
"Hopefully, I could help the school make the Final Four this time," said Codiñera.
But Codiñera stressed that advancing to the post-season is easier said than done, and it will take not just hard work from his players.
"Hard work and the belief that you can do it will be vital in our campaign this year," said Codiñera, who previously coached the University of the East in the UAAP.
Arellano will be one of the teams brandishing an intact line-up in the upcoming NCAA Season 90 men’s basketball tournament, having retained the core of the team that wound up tied for sixth place with an 8-10 record in the previous season.
Keith Agovida, Nards Pinto, Nichole Bangga, Julius Cadavis, Levi Hernandez, Prince Caperal, Ralph Salcedo, and Fil-Canadian sharpshooter Zach Nichols are all back, and seasoned from last year’s experience.
Also boosting Arellano’s cause is the return of Isiah Ciriacruz after a three-year hiatus, while Fil-Am recruits Dioncee Holts and David Ortega are expected to fill the void left by AJ Serjue and James Forrester.
"Ice (Ciriacruz) was part of Arellano U’s team during its first two NCAA seasons, and technically, he’s a veteran presence for the other guys," said Codiñera.
Codiñera also wants his team to focus on defense, while trying to impart his vast knowledge to the Arellano big men.
"I try to teach them some moves," said Codiñera, known as the "Defense Minister" during his playing years. "But the best teacher is still experience. We'll see how they perform."