New coach Macaraya hopes to bring Stags back to NCAA prominence
Egay Macaraya confirmed on Monday his appointment as the new head coach of San Sebastian’s men’s basketball team.
Macaraya succeeded former pro Rodney Santos, who was relieved of his duties as head coach despite steering the rebuilding Stags to a respectable seventh-place finish with 6-12 record in the NCAA in his first season at the helm.
Macaraya will also vacate his head-coaching position at Centro Escolar University, which he guided to five championships in the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities, but will still be part of the team as consultant.
“I was released in good faith,” Macaraya, who has started practicing with the Stags after signing his contract last week, said during a press conference held at Cafe France in Makati.
“Siya na ang nagpa-practice (He has started practicing with the team),” Reynold Munsayac, San Sebastian’s representative to the NCAA management committee, said.
Macaraya will bring in former Stag Eugene Quilban, ex-Scorpion Melo Banua, and his CEU conditioning staff Philip Go and Alex Almonte. San Sebastian scouting coach Franco Atienza will be retained as part of Macaraya’s staff.
Yong Garcia, one of Macaraya’s assistants with CEU, will call the shots for the Scorpions. The 50-year-old mentor will also bring in the help of JJ Yap to support his first year with the Stags.
Macaraya is hoping to revive San Sebastian’s proud championship pedigree, where he won an NCAA title as a player in 1985 to end the school’s 12-year title drought before coaching the team for a year in the late 80s.
“Hopefully, mabalik yung winning tradition and basketball glory sa San Sebastian (we’ll be able to bring back the winning tradition and basketball glory in San Sebastian),” he said.
Michael Calisaan, Ryan Costelo, Rhanzelle Yong, and Jerick Fabian are expected to return next year following the departure of key big man Bradwyn Guinto and injury-riddled guard Jamil Ortuoste, who decided to forego his final playing year.
Macaraya is hoping to form a competitive core from a 35-man pool, which includes players from Team B.
“Maraming malaki ang potential sa mga players (We have players who have high potential). I think we can form a very strong team this season, which will also be San Sebastian’s 75th year,” he said, as he eyes to trim the team to 20 by Thursday.
“Right now, when I see my players, we don’t have the height but we have the speed. Our focus is in the running game, but as what I teach to every team I have been in, the main focus is we should always play defense,” added Macaraya.
One of Macaraya’s biggest accomplishments as coach was when he steered the Cafe France Bakers to an improbable championship run in the PBA D-League last year.
He also said the goal is for San Sebastian to make the Final Four after missing the playoffs the last two years. The Stags last won the NCAA crown in 2009 led by former Ginebra player Jimbo Aquino with a stellar crew that included Calvin Abueva, Ronald Pascual, Pamboy Raymundo and Ian Sangalang.
“There is no pressure for us because it’s a transition period. But we’ll try our very best to make it to the Final Four.”
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