Players shocked as Gee returns to Petron; Sauler new DLSU coach
La Salle has tapped Marco Januz “Juno” Sauler as head coach of its men’s basketball team just three weeks before the start of the UAAP after Gee Abanilla, the Archers’ regular mentor, was recalled by Petron in the wake of a reported reorganization by San Miguel’s teams in the PBA.
Sauler had served as an assistant of Abanilla, a former Petron assistant coach, who steered the Archers back to the UAAP Final Four last season after finishing the eliminations with a 9-5 record.
“There’s no change really because coach Juno has been working with coach Gee and he knows the plays,” said Henry Atayde, La Salle’s representative to the UAAP Board. “Maybe there will just be a difference in the training method or the rotation of players.”
The Archers, led by chief gunner Jeron Teng, were surprised when team management made the announcement yesterday.
“We were all shocked,” Teng told the Inquirer yesterday. “We don’t know the whole story yet, but whatever it is, we just have to adjust to it. We still have to play our best. What the players really want is to just win.”
Sauler, who won three straight UAAP titles as coach of the Lady Archers starting in 1999, officially takes over on Monday.
Also a Ginebra deputy in the PBA, Sauler was part of Franz Pumaren’s coaching staff during La Salle’s glory years in the late ’90s.
“We just have to trust coach Juno because he’s not like a new face,” said La Salle big man Norbert Torres. “Coach Juno was there all throughout last year. I’m looking forward to how coach Juno will handle the team as the head coach because he was already so good as an assistant coach.”
La Salle will release an official statement on the coaching change tomorrow.
Abanilla served as La Salle mentor for only one season and finished with a personal 10-6 win-loss record in the UAAP.
“Petron is recalling [Abanilla] due to the reorganization that is happening,” said Atayde. With a report from Randolph Leongson
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