Fifteen years ago, Buddy Encarnado and Boyet Fernandez formed together a winning partnership for Sta. Lucia Realty in the Philippine Basketball Association: The second of the two championships won by the Realtors in the big league.
Encarnado was the long-time team manager of the Realtors, who molded Fernandez and gave the former PBA player-turned-coach his first coaching gig in Asia’s pioneering professional league.
It didn’t take long for Fernandez to get his feet wet. In the 2008 Philippine Cup finals, the Realtors, then bannered by Most Valuable Player winner Kelly Williams, Rookie of the Year awardee Ryan Reyes and veteran stars Marlou Aquino and Dennis Espino would lead the Realtors to an upset win over powerhouse Purefoods.
When the Realtors’ franchise was acquired by NLEX, Fernandez was among those retained by the franchise and he continued his winning ways, not only with the semi-pro team, but also in the collegiate level where he was multiple-time champion handling San Beda.
But fate brought Encarnado and Fernandez together when the two-time PBA Executive of the Year awardee saw a perfect opportunity to convince the former Coach of the Year awardee to take another shot at coaching. The two decided to renew their successful tandem.
This time, Encarnado and Fernandez rekindled their winning partnership and brought it to Pasig in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
Using the formula of developing young players, Encarnado and Fernandez traveled to different provinces in the Visayas where they were able to land promising players. Among them are Kenny Rogers Rocacurva and Christian Bolano, who were products of OCCCI-Ormoc playing in different “Panalay Leagues” or in local basketball parlance, “ligang labas.”
Pint-size but explosive guard Ryan Costelo, who hails from Marikina and previously played for different teams in the MPBL, also played a key role for Pasig. He had a smashing debut win, an 82-64 demolition of Xentro Mall-Rizal.
“We’re not a big-budgeted team, like the other cities or provinces bankrolled by big companies and politicians like Zamboanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas and San Juan, but what we did was the old-fashioned way of getting young players who have something to prove,” Encarnado told Daily Tribune in a telephone interview.
“These players are hungry to win and their only objective is to get more exposure and be given more opportunity to play.”
Pasig, according to Encarnado, may not have the talent level of teams which can easily pick up players and pay them handsomely just to join their squad, but the team is providing promising players who are out to make a name for themselves.
“We want to become the team that will serve as a breeding ground for these players and with Pasig, this is the right place for them,” added Encarnado.
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