Photo by Ash Paringit/The LANCE.
With all the hardships that they endured during the course of their three-year partnership in Intramuros, there is no other player that can vouch better for head coach Jeff Napa than Letran team captain Bong Quinto.
“Parang ngayon din ‘yung end ng contract nila eh. Para sa akin talaga, si coach Jeff talaga, fit talaga siya,” Quinto shared in an interview with The LANCE.
“Fit talaga siya dito eh. Kasi kung paano siya nagtiis sa attitude ng players, sinalo niya talaga. Kahit ako personally, tinanggap niya ako eh,” said Quinto.
Inheriting the core of Aldin Ayo’s championship core, it was hard for Napa to gain the trust of his players right away. Quinto admitted that the sudden change caught the team off guard and became a huge struggle for the young Knights.
“Sobrang hirap nun kasi galing ka sa championship tapos biglang mag-iiba ng coach,” shared Quinto.
‘’’Yung rookie year ni Coach Jeff, nakakahiya ‘man sabihin, pero para kaming nakawala. So si Coach Jeff ‘yung nag suffer talaga. Lahat ng toyo at topak namin, lumabas nun,” he added.
Fresh from winning the 2015 NCAA championship, players’ egos started to rise, and with a rookie head coach on board, the Knights had a hard time adjusting.
“First time niya kasi mag head coach ng seniors tapos champion ‘yung team. Watak-watak kami,” Quinto said.
“Sobrang magulo talaga kasi dun naglabasan mga ego namin eh kasi champion kami, so sa madaling salita, si Coach Jeff ang pinakanahirapan,’’ Quinto admitted.
Luckily for them, Napa never gave up and handled the situation in the best way possible.
“Thankful ako si Coach Jeff ang naging coach namin, kasi kung hindi, feel ko aalis din ako dito eh. Kumbaga ‘yung sitwasyon namin nun pinabayaan niya kami eh, parang, ‘sige gawin niyo ‘yan, next season humanda kayo.’” he said.
“Si Coach Jeff ang nagsalba talaga ng career namin ni [JP Calvo] Calvo, kung bakit nandito kami sa sitwasyon namin ngayon,” he added.