MANILA, Philippines -- Former San Beda head coach Frankie Lim penned an emotional tribute to his player, Sudan Daniel, who died the day after Christmas due to an asthma attack.
Lim steered the Red Lions to four NCAA titles from 2007 to 2011, including a perfect 18-0 campaign in 2010 when Daniel won Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors.
"Su is a player you want to have in your team. I think SBU is blessed to have a player like Sudan," Lim said. "He works hard in practice, and gives everything in the game."
"He only averages 22 minutes a game, but will give you excellent numbers. I don't think we can achieve the sweep in 2010 without Su," he added.
Lim, who left San Beda ahead of the 2012 NCAA season, recalled how he nearly sent Daniel home in 2009 but the player made a "complete turnaround" and showed he was worthy of the coach's trust. Daniel went on to anchor their title run the following year.
"Ask anybody in the team including me, we'll go through hell and back with Su again and again," said Lim.
For Lim, what made Daniel so special was that he epitomized excellence both on and off the court. He called the American a part of his family, the "kuya" not just of the Red Lions but even of Lim's own children.
"He was our adopted child," the coach said. "He was a constant figure in not just our celebrations but also regular lunches and dinners."
Daniel was also greatly loved in the Bedan community and an exemplary student-athlete; Lim hailed his efforts to teach children about basketball. "He is also well loved by them, not just because he was a great teacher, but he is teaching from experience," he said.
"Sudan's passing is a tragedy for our family," said Lim.
Daniel was just 33 years old, having celebrated his birthday on December 17th. He spent the holidays with two of his former teammates, Anthony and David Semerad.
After his death, Daniel's former teammates in San Beda paid tribute to their "big brother," the "SUperman" who looked out for them both on and off the court. Several other players -- including former TNT import KJ McDaniels -- also expressed their devastation at Daniel's sudden passing.
Lim, in his tribute to his former player, focused on the happy memories they shared.
"He stayed in the Philippines after graduation because he plain and simple loved it here. He wanted to play here, finish his studies and work here. It was a blessing for many of us who had a chance to get to know him," said Lim.
"He was very personable, had a good sense of reality and he worked hard. He lit up every room he was in," he added. "We are very proud of how Su lived his life. His first job, his daughter, and his love life."
"We are very proud of the man he came to be, he took care of himself and those around him very well 'til the end."
Daniel's sudden passing is "very devastating" for Lim and his family, the coach said, but he vows to give back to his former player the best way he knows how.
"Su always told us, 'I got your back'," Lim recalled. "Now, it is our time to have his. Watch over us, SUperman. We are very proud of you. You will never be forgotten."