The pandemic must be weighing heavily on the UP Fighting Maroons. After a successful campaign the last two UAAP seasons, Covid-19 grounded them, halting whatever momentum they had, and taking away the opportunity to further build on whatever success they had the past couple of years.
Before the pandemic, they looked very promising. Slowly but surely, however, the pieces they are assembling suddenly fell by the wayside. First to go was the top prospect from down under, Ethan Kirkness. Then, Kobe Paras decided to go overseas and join the stable that is handling Kai Sotto. After which, brothers Juan and Javi Gomez De Lliano went to the Land of the Rising Sun, in search of better career and greener pastures.
Last month, UP Fighting Maroons parted ways with Bo Perasol, the head coach when Diliman Republic made great strides and changed their fortunes for the better. Whether the parting of ways was due to the developments mentioned or not is anybody’s guess. What is clear, however, is that with the change of personnel, the powers that be at UP wanted a change of direction, too, and they want someone new at the helm.
After Perasol’s departure, several names were floated to replace him. Among them is Patrick Aquino, current head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas’s Women’s Basketball team; former UP Maroon stalwart, PBA great and San Beda head coach Ronnie Magsanoc; and also a former UP great and ex-Maroons coach in Eric Altamirano. A name of a Serbian national was also floated in the UP community forums, to serve as a counterweight to Tab Baldwin, or so they say.
In the end though, the UP Fighting Maroons settled for one that is considered the frontrunner all along. Perasol was not yet out as head coach when the name Goldwin Monteverde was already mentioned as his most likely successor. In a statement released last August 13, no less than Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo confirmed the appointment of Goldwin Monteverde as the new head coach of the UP Fighting Maroons.
But who exactly is Goldwin Monteverde?
A true Regal baby
If you wonder whether he is in any way related to a showbiz “matriarch”, Goldwin is the son of Lily Monteverde of Regal Films, which makes him a true “Regal baby.” Unlike his famous mother though, his name does not ring a bell to most basketball fans. He is not as famous as Eric Altamirano or Ronnie Magsanoc, who had a strong recall among basketball fans and even among the UP faithful, by virtue of them being former UP as well as PBA players. Both of them were also champion coaches: Altamirano won a crown for Purefoods in 1997, while the Point Laureate won a championship for San Beda in NCAA Season 88.
Goldwyn, however, has been around the Philippine basketball scene as far as anyone can remember. He steered Chiang Kai Shek College, a known powerhouse in the juniors basketball division in Manila, to several titles, including Tiong Lian and Palarong Pambansa. His success landed him a coaching gig at Adamson Baby Falcons, and later, with the NU Bullpups, which he guided to two UAAP Juniors titles. On the way to the title his squad beat the Ateneo Eaglets, led by the now NBA prospect Kai Sotto. The titles he won for the Bullpups make him “regal” not only in name but in achievement as well.
Honing and developing younger players is the forte of Goldwin, and that is why Batang Gilas head coach Sandy Arespacochaga tapped him to assist in player development for the national team. Goldwin has been credited for the success of collegiate players such as Fran Yu, Encho Serrano and Jayvee Tungcab.
Weaving his magic at Diliman
A collegiate coach, even one with an impressive CV, needs the support of the powers that be in a college or a university, if not of the community. It seems that the UP community is supportive of the appointment of Goldwin as a head coach. No less than the avid UP Men’s Basketball Team supporter Robina Gokongwei-Pe congratulated Goldwin for the appointment.
Goldwin also has the endorsement of Perasol. According to a news report, it was with “Perasol’s recommendation that Goldwin applied for the job.” Perasol himself is not yet out of the loop: on the day Monteverde was appointed head coach, Perasol was appointed as program director of UP MBT.
How much power Perasol will have or how it will impact on Monteverde’s running of the team remains to be seen.
It was probably with the eye on player development, with key Maroons departing, that eventually cinched for Goldwin the head coaching job at UP. The Fighting Maroons have recruits that were handled previously by Monteverde; Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano. With Goldwin at the helm, the transition of the two from Bullpups to Fighting Maroons is expected to be easy.
But will Goldwin strike gold?
UP MBT made the finals once and the Final Four twice the past two seasons but it was not enough to keep Perasol at the helm. No one knows when the UAAP Basketball season will resume, and the uncertainty played a part in their parting of ways. Whoever the people running the show from the shadows probably thought that it is best to change the direction this time, especially with key players gone and with new additions in.
The question is if coach Goldwin will be more successful than his predecessor. Replicating the success of the past two seasons may not be enough, not when expectations continue to rise in that far side of Katipunan. Only the UAAP basketball season can answer the question of whether Monteverde can strike gold.
But hopes remain high and the community remains upbeat. Goldwin Monteverde has found a lot of success in his coaching gig. The UP community certainly hopes that his Midas touch will work not only on his players but also on the team. That eventually, a UAAP men’s basketball trophy, in the very near future, will rest either in Quezon Hall or Bahay ng Alumni.