Being a replacement doesn’t worry coach Boyet Fernandez, the eternal optimist | Inquirer Sports
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Being a replacement doesn’t worry coach Boyet Fernandez, the eternal optimist

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 10:05 PM December 24, 2016
NLEX's Boyet Fernandez. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

NLEX’s Boyet Fernandez. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Long before he started carving a niche as one of the brightest basketball minds in the country, returning San Beda coach Teoderico “Boyet” Fernandez had already thought about packing his bags for the United States to finally pursue a career in nursing.

Fernandez was in his 12th year in the PBA and believed that time was almost up on a career that saw him collect just one championship—as a reserve—for Purefoods in 2002.

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“I thought about how I could support my family after basketball,” the former Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod star recalls. “I might as well migrate to the US to pursue my nursing career. I was 35 and if I had decided later to move, it might be difficult to start all over again.”

Coaching wasn’t an option back then for Fernandez, whose playing career wasn’t as impressive as those of his batch mates in the 1993 PBA Rookie Draft like Johnny Abbarientos and Olsen Racela.

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But as he nears the end of his first decade of coaching in almost every level in local basketball, the former point guard looks back at chances he seized after others had passed up on them.

Although he was a highly touted amateur, the lefty known for his heady play and outside shooting was a back-up point guard for most of his career. But he was a very good one at that. The late national coach Ron Jacobs even called him the “best back-up point guard in the PBA.”

Fernandez impressed Jong Uichico enough to call him up for the national quintet for the 2002 Busan Asian Games where he played as a reserve. “It was an honor to represent the country even as a reserve,” he says. “I was very proud to be part of that team.”

It has been his positive attitude and willingness to embrace every opportunity that have served him in good stead in a cutthroat profession such as coaching.

Fernandez got his big break at Sta. Lucia in the PBA, after serving as an assistant for one conference in 2004. He wasn’t even the first choice as the Sta. Lucia management had first approached Adonis Tierra and later, Cholo Martin, to replace Alfrancis Chua. Tierra and Martin declined, paving the way for Fernandez, who had the full backing of manager Buddy Encarnado, to take over.

“I’ve been lucky and blessed to have teams and managers who fully support me,” Fernandez says. “I owe a lot of my coaching career to boss Buddy. I wouldn’t be coaching now if he didn’t take a chance on me that year.”

Apart from serving as assistant coach at Sta. Lucia the conference before, Fernandez also moonlighted as coach of RCBC’s basketball team in an interbank league. But that was just about the only head-coaching experience he brought to his first PBA job.

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Sta. Lucia’s gamble to have one of its former players coach the team paid off. In only his first conference calling the shots for the Realtors, Fernandez piloted the team, then bannered by Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes and veterans Marlou Aquino and Dennis Espino, to the 2007-2008 PBA All-Filipino title.

That served as the launching pad to what has been a very fruitful coaching career for Fernandez, now 45.

He has also collected a couple of NCAA championships with San Beda (2013 and 2014) and six titles with NLEX in the PBA D-League. His coaching career isn’t without snags, though. As interim coach of University of the Philippines in 2010, Fernandez went 0-12.

“That was my learning curve,” he says of his UP stint. “I learned so much from that season alone.”

The following year, Fernandez joined San Beda as coach Ronnie Magsanoc’s lead assistant. Magsanoc left after one season, and Fernandez again took over the Red Lions’ reins. Armed with one of the strongest lineups in league history, he delivered two titles to the Mendiola-based school.

The pro league came calling anew as NLEX elevated its franchise to the PBA in 2014 with Fernandez as coach. But the franchise took a new direction this season in hiring coach Yeng Guiao.

Fernandez wasn’t jobless for long. Jamike Jarin was lured away from Mendiola by National University to coach the Bulldogs in the UAAP next season, opening up the opportunity for Fernandez to return to the Lions’ den.

“I always see it as a blessing,” Fernandez says of the opportunities that have come his way. “I try to work hard and perform when I’m given the chance.”

For someone who wasn’t always the top choice, Fernandez surely has carved a noteworthy coaching career. With another run at San Beda on the horizon, it won’t be long before we see Fernandez back on top again. Not bad for someone who thought he’s not cut out for coaching.

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TAGS: Boyet Fernandez, coaching, PBA, San Beda
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