Jermaine Byrd officially wrapped up his first tour of duty as the team consultant for the De La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Although he failed to achieve the ending he wanted as DLSU narrowly missed out on the Final 4 for the second straight year, Byrd now possesses a better understanding of Philippine basketball at the collegiate level.
“My biggest realization is that it’s just a different game from what myself and him are used to. Not saying it isn’t good. I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m hoping to continue to stay out here and help young men get better. But it was just different from the atmosphere, from the physicality. Now after having a year under my belt, kind of understand, some of the things you can’t prepare for if you haven’t been through it,” he shared.
Prior to being familiar face in the sidelines for the Taft-based squad this season, Byrd built quite a coaching career overseas, serving as an assistant coach in the NBA G-League for the Tulsa 66ers, Sioux Falls Skyforce and LA Defenders.
But he admitted that none of those accolades could have prepared him for the unpredictability of the UAAP and Philippine brand of basketball in general.
“When I first got the job, a lot of coaches, a lot of players especially Andrei and Aljun, they were kinda telling me it was really different from the preseason. And to their credit, I was just thought ‘ah they’re just players, they’re just talking.’ But when I first got here in practice, it was like mayhem. They would just be running into each other, fouling, pushing each other on the ground. When I’m from, that either leads to a fight or it leads to somebody getting hurt. It took me a couple of games that’s just how it is out here. It’s just kinda like the NBA back in the days, back in like the 90’s and I love it. I think in America the game has gotten a little bit soft so it’s refreshing to be out here. That’s my biggest realization,” he said.
The Green Archers went 7-7 and finished the tournament in fifth place. The team still managed to end their season on a high note, handing the Adamson Soaring a sound 89-63 beating on Wednesday.
“Good team win, good team win. We wanted the guys to finish this off the right way. Just like coach Gian said, lots of good parts,” he said of DLSU’s last game. “Season was good not what we wanted but for me being a first year head coach in this league, it was okay. We didn’t reach the goal, but I’m happy with set off our seniors the right way.”