by Jerome LagunzadNewly-appointed La Salle coach Louie Gonzales is pleading for trust and confidence as he tries to whip the Archers into shape without two-time league Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala.
“Kinalimutan ko muna ‘yung (ultimate) goal namin. Once we start practicing next week, ang sasabihin ko lang sa kanila ‘Let’s be the best at getting better,'” said the 41-year-old Gonzales in an interview with CNN Philippines’ Sports Desk on Tuesday night.
“I think as a coach, from my experience, kapag dun ka muna nag-focus, it lessens the pressure. Mas magiging feasible ‘yung gagawin niyo, mas magiging natural, mas magiging madali ang lahat. Once na mama-build na ako ng strong foundation, I know everything follows,” said Gonzales who took over the reins left by Aldin Ayo.
Gonzales has been Ayo’s trusted lieutenant during Letran championship run in 2015 and La Salle’s conquest the following year.
“‘Yung formula for success, andyan naman na ‘yan,” he said. “I already know the players, I know what they can bring and I think it will be an advantage. But the biggest question right now is ‘yung pasensya na lang sa pag-aadjust dun sa gagawin ko.
“The short-term goal, it’s for them to adapt and adjust regarding being the best at getting better. Siyempre ang ultimate goal is to win the championship. But ‘yung process na papunta dun, it’s not going to be easy.”
Aside from Ayo and the 6-foot-7 Mbala, who has already turned pro in Mexico, the Green Archers will moss the athletic 6-foot-5 big man Abu Tratter who has already maximized his eligibility.
That’s the least of Gonzalez’s immediate concerns, however.
“I’m confident na basta ma-establish namin ng tama ‘yung system and make sure all players understand their defined roles, ‘yung system namin magiging matatag. ‘Yung plays andyan naman yan eh. Pero ‘yung system, ‘yan ang nagga-guide,” he said.
A long-time assistant for nearly two decades, Gonzalez said he’s also speeding up his process of having back that “coach’s gut feel for a game situation” after thriving more on the technical side of the sport for so long.
After all, his basketball approach has been “non-stop learning. I always want to learn. I always want to improve,” he said.