MANILA, Philippines – Dan Palami, best known as the manager of the Philippine Azkals, has been tasked to help the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons return to relevance.
He said it is a job that will require hard work and dedication from all involved.
"There's some sort of parallelism between them (the Azkals) and us," Palami said in an interview on ANC’s “Hardball” on Wednesday night. "We came from a winless football campaign before."
Palami has been able to help turn the Azkals into a highly competitive team, and UP officials are hoping that he can bring his "Azkals magic" to their basketball program.
"But I said, there is no magic here," said Palami. "It'’s really hard work, and it's really dedication to what you will be doing."
Palami's ultimate goal with UP is to "relive 1986," which was the last time the Maroons won the UAAP men's basketball championship.
"Of course, it takes a lot of effort to do that, but I think we are ready for that in the long haul," said Palami. "But what I would like the team to achieve, is to come up with short milestones that are achievable at this time, and then try to go from there."
"We develop their confidence," said Palami of the UP players, "and they'll know that winning is not an alien thing – that it is something that they can actually do."
But Palami understands that he can only do so much on the management side. "At the end of the day, this will be the coach and the players who will make things happen," he pointed out.
Rey Madrid took over as head coach of UP halfway through Season 76 but could not do much of a difference, as the Maroons finished 0-14.
But Madrid believes that things will be different in Season 77, especially as he has had a full off-season to work with the team and instill his system.
"The goal for this season is to win some (games)," said Madrid. "That's number one. (We also want) to make our mark – that we are not just a team that you will just chalk up another win when you face us."
"We want to have a 50-50 chance in every game that we play," he added.
Madrid said he understands that as head coach of the Maroons, he is always in the "hot seat," but accepts the challenge.
"I'm just gonna set them up so they can (play) their best basketball against the best basketball of the other team," he said.
"If you ask me why I wanted this – it's not a question of did I really want this, or did I fight for this, or anything," he added. "I kind of look at it as, it's the office that seeks the man. It's not the man that seeks the office. I fell into this place."
Before Madrid and the UP players can do their job inside the court, Palami said they are first working on developing the team’s mentality ahead of the UAAP season.
"What we're doing now is to work on, first, ensuring that the players believe that there are people, that there are alumni who actually believe in them, and believe in what they can achieve," said Palami.
"I think they have to buy into that dream, they have to buy into that objective, and they have to buy into that goal," he added.