La Salle coach Juno Sauler instructs his team -- Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – De La Salle head coach Juno Sauler is famous for his stoicism, but Green Archers guard Almond Vosotros insists that while their coach is a man of few words, he is a very inspirational figure for him and his teammates.
Sauler famously took over the La Salle head coaching job with only two weeks to go before the start of the Season 76 tournament, bucked a slow start and led the Green Archers to the championship.
Since then, La Salle has been dominating college basketball again, winning the Philippine Collegiate Champions League crown after the season, and the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup recently.
Speaking about their coach, the veteran Vosotros said Sauler's stoicism is far from a problem for the defending champions.
"Honestly, si Coach Juno, the way we talk sa team, talagang very inspirational sa amin," he revealed. "Bihira lang siya magsalita ng marami, as in few words lang talaga."
"Pero as, talagang mage-gets mo kung ano 'yung point niya sa team, kung ano gusto niya sa team, kung ano ang gusto niya para sa amin at para sa future," he added.
With Sauler at the helm, the Green Archers have kept themselves on an even keel ahead of their defense of the UAAP men's basketball title.
Vosotros said they have "no expectations" heading into the season, and have set a modest goal of making it to the Final Four.
"Sakto lang," he said when asked about the pressure the team is feeling. "Walang gaanong pressure, that's why sabi ko na walang expectation."
"With the team, sinasabi namin na no expectation this year, same as last year. But we promise that we will work hard together, ten times harder than last year," he added.
His teammates Jason Perkins and Jeron Teng believe the additional pressure is external, instead of internal.
"(There's) not too much (added pressure), I guess," Perkins said "Since we won, I guess teams are out to get us, but it's okay. We'll just focus on getting better as a team and getting better day by day."
"Siyempre may pressure kasi out of all the teams, 'yung defending champion ‘yung tinitingnan ng other teams, 'yun 'yung team to beat," said Teng, last season's Finals MVP. "Feel namin, we're the team to beat just because we're defending champions, not necessarily because of the strength (of the team)."