MANILA, Philippines -- They may be All-Stars and stalwarts of the Philippine national team now, but the TNT duo of Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy will never forget the lessons they learned from their collegiate coaches.
Both players were UAAP champions: Rosario was part of the historic National University (NU) team that ended a 60-year title drought in Season 77, by beating Far Eastern University (FEU) in three games. The next season, Pogoy and the Tamaraws had their turn, outlasting University of Santo Tomas (UST) to claim their 20th men's basketball title.
For the pair, their collegiate experiences and the lessons they learned from their coaches made them the players that they are now.
"Si Coach Nash (Racela), parang papa ko na talaga siya," Pogoy said of his collegiate coach, who also used to call the shots for TNT in the PBA. "Tinulungan niya ako, hindi lang sa basketball."
"Kasi noong una, pagdating ko sa Manila, 'yung laro ko talaga, parang barumbado eh. Puro away-away lang, mga ganun," he admitted, during an appearance on the "2OT" podcast.
Racela was vital to Pogoy's basketball education. A recruit out of the University of Cebu, Pogoy admitted that when he first arrived at FEU, he was not well-versed in the basketball terms that now comes easily to him.
"Hindi ko alam 'yung mga staggered screen, 'yung mga tawag-tawag na ganyan," he revealed.
With Racela in charge, Pogoy grew as a basketball player, eventually becoming a key factor in FEU's triumph in Season 78. It was Pogoy who drilled the go-ahead three-pointer that led to the Tamaraws 67-62 win in Game 3. He was eventually selected by TNT in the special draft in 2016.
"Noong dumating si Coach Nash, ayun, parang madali na lang 'yung basketball," he said. "Ang laking tulong talaga 'yung mga tinuturo ni Coach Nash sa akin."
Rosario, for his part, remembers how NU coach Eric Altamirano and his family took him in when he played for the Bulldogs, treating him as if he were their own son. He stayed with the Altamirano for three years.
"Kahit sa ibang pamilya ni Coach Eric, parang ang turing na nila sa akin, kapamilya na rin," said Rosario, who emerged as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 Draft.
Rosario went with Altamirano early in the mornings to their practice facility, even when he wasn't yet part of NU's Team A.
"Alam ni Coach Eric 'yong hirap ko bago ako makapunta ng Team A," he said. "Doon ko rin natutunan sa bahay nila 'yung disiplina sa lahat -- sa basketball, kahit sa buhay. 'Yung value ng hard work, doon ko rin natutunan."
"Naalala ko noon, si Coach Eric pa nga 'yung gumigising sa akin para mag-work out sa labas ng bahay nila," he added. "Kasi 'di ba, may court sa labas ng bahay nila. One-on-one, talagang tinuturuan ako. Bihira 'yung mga coaches na makita mong ganoon eh."
This is why the Altamirano family remains one of Rosario's inspirations, even now that he is a professional player. He has stayed in contact with his college coach and continues to seek advice from them as well.
"Sa tingin ko, wala ako kung wala sila eh," said Rosario. "Wala ako ngayon sa kinatatayuan ko kung wala sila, kasi sila 'yung tumayong nanay at tatay ko dito sa Manila."
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