The Pasay Voyagers’ bench boss Cholo Martin was recently named as the new head coach of the Arellano Chiefs of the NCAA. Ahead of his first training with the team in November, Martin and two other members of his coaching team talked to FOX Sports Philippines for an exclusive interview.
“It is every basketball coach’s ambition is to coach a college basketball team. Because it is in the high school and college leagues that we can scout and develop talents. With professional basketball, for example, Pasay Voyagers, they have already played their college basketball, so we just pick the talents and then mould them into one team. In college basketball, it really is different because you have to start from zero. You start to build a competitive team then later on a champion team.” the revered mentor said about his new endeavor.
Martin, bannering a four-decade of experience as a coach, will be calling the shots for the Chiefs at the start of the NCAA Season 95. The Voyagers’ key players Jaypee Belencion and Yvan Ludovice, meanwhile, were also tapped as his deputies for the collegiate team.
“It really is my first priority to take in young talents. I’m already old, I cannot make too much demonstration so I need help from some fresh legs. What I will do is to make a training program, a basketball program for Arellano and then make two young guys to make the demonstration and compete with them. Iba pa rin kasi yung active players and they have already made a name for themselves – champion NCAA player (Ludovice) and ex-Pro (Belencion),” he said. “It’s also a reward for their passion for the sport, Jaypee and Yvan are the ones who comes early to practice and then helps their teammates out. It’s a reward that they both deserve getting. I need them to help me since they are still young and has fresh ideas that can contribute to create a competitive and eventually a champion team.”
Not known to many, it wasn’t too hard for Coach Cholo to decide whether he accepts the enticing offer of the Chiefs – since it was the same team that helped him jump start his career in coaching.
“Arellano is my first coaching job, I made a name for coaching because of Arellano. The owners are my classmates in San Beda so I was really happy when they decided to take me in because it was such a very long time since I started with them – 1983,” he shared. “But immediately after 2 years, first year it was a competitive team then the following team, we were able to put up a champion team. After that, I left the school, I went to the pros then went to the Middle East, so many things happened. But there, Arellano was my stepping stone in coaching, it opened everything for me, jumpstarted my career to be honest.”
DREAM COME TRUE
For former San Beda Red Lion Yvan Ludovice, the opportunity given to him by Coach Cholo Martin is an additional blessing and a dream come true.
“It is a dream come true for me that I was chosen and given the opportunity to coach. First time ko to coach a collegiate team and for me, it’s already an advocacy to share my passion for basketball to those aspiring athletes. Parang calling kasi to do more than just playing the sport you love.”
Ludovice adds that being an assistant to Cholo Martin is not only a chance to learn more as a player but as a coach as well. He and Martin has worked together in San Beda, with Martin being part of the coaching staff for the longest time, and Ludovice having played for the Red Lions that dominated the NCAA in terms of championships.
“This is an opportunity for me to not only learn from Coach Cholo in terms of coaching but also to share what I have experienced as a player. Basketball kasi is a continuous learning, it doesn’t stop the moment you hang up your jersey.”
“BALL IS LIFE”
For ex-pro and former Letran Knight, Jaypee Belencion, on the other hand, the chance to be the deputy tactician for Cholo Martin is an epitome of the saying “ball is life.”
“Kung hindi kasi dahil sa basketball at sa mga taong naka paligid sa akin na sumuporta sa passion ko para sa sport, wala ako siguro kung nasaan man ako ngayon. Feeling ko, swerte para sa akin yung basketball kasi dahil din sa sport, may mga blessings na bumabalik sa akin.”
Belencion says that his experience in the pros and even with the MPBL will be his main tool in helping out these collegiate players from Arellano. In fact, he thinks that their college players will be their biggest fans the moment he and Ludovice suits up for the Voyagers.
“Tingin ko mas mahahasa pa ako as a player and as a coach na din. Ma-apply ko as a player ng Pasay yung matuturo ko rin sa mga magiging player namin sa school. Tapos makikita pa nila each time na may game kami sa MPBL na active pa yung mga coaches nila.”
THE AGREEMENT AND THE ADVANTAGE
When Coach Cholo Martin spoke with the owner of Arellano, he was told that it is good that he is also coaching a team in the MPBL – something that the Pasay Voyagers can take advantage of in the near future.
“Our players (Chiefs) will now have something to look forward to once their time with Arellano is up. Maybe in the future, we can acquire one of the players from Arellano after they graduate. I already talked to one of the graduating player, told him to finish his studies and then eventually, he will practice with us.”
Coach Cholo and his incoming deputies are not worried that there might be other teams around that are ready to lure them out of the Voyagers since being in the NCAA can give them an additional exposure.
“Even before I was offered to be Arellano’s assistant coach, there were offers from other teams already. One thing I can assure Pasay fans is that I’m here to stay and I’m not going anywhere,” Ludovice quipped.
“Management naman ng Pasay bahala sa akin, ako hindi naman ako aalis dyan. Talagang laging may challenge pagdating sa basketball. Basta, I will do my best as a coach and as a player.” Belencion added.