WITH a hearty laugh, coach Johnedel Cardel pointed to CJ Perez as the player in the PBA today that closely resembles his game during his time.
"Syempre player ko pipiliin ko," said Cardel of Perez, his young main man in Terra Firma (formerly Columbian Dyip).
Cardel had a brief PBA career with Alaska Milk, Sta. Lucia and Shell from 1993 to 1997 before drifting to the MBA.
But he's a lethal scorer and soaring artist like Perez in his UAAP days as a La Salle Archer and with Magnolia in the defunct PABL.
And he had also served duties for flag and country, starting with the 16-under Philippine team with Jun Limpot, and with the men's team to the 1989 SEA Games under head coach Derrick Pumaren and assistant coach Yeng Guiao.
He mentioned Pumaren and Guiao, and his first PBA mentor Tim Cone among his biggest influences in coaching.
"Sila mga coaches na nadaanan ko. Pinagsama-sama ko yung knowledge na yon, at yon ang ginagamit ko ngayon," said Cardel of his weapon as a young coach slugging it out with the giants in PBA coaching in Cone, Guiao, Norman Black and the rest of the formidable pack.
"Sila mga idols ko. Given the chance na makalaban ko ang mga idols ko eh napakasaya," Cardel also said.
He said landing in coaching wasn't in his wildest dreams.
"Hindi ko akalain na mapunta ako sa coaching. Siguro because of my friend, because of my boss, going to the ABL as assistant coach; after that with Globalport joining the PBA, doon ako nabigyan ng chance makabalik sa PBA," he added.
The opportunity to be a PBA head coach presented itself as Chris Gavina stepped down as Kia Picanto bench chieftain in 2018.
He didn't shirk from the challenge.
He's embraced it, and he's exerting effort to pay back the trust of his bosses, and to compete with the brightest minds in PBA play. (SB)