Garcia, Letran agree to 1-year coaching deal
MANILA, Philippines – The search for the next coach of the Letran Knights is apparently over as Caloy Garcia and officials of the Intramuros-based university have agreed in principle for a one-year deal.
Garcia said he signed an offer sheet during a meeting with school officials today and only minor issues need to be threshed out before he formally assumes the post vacated by long-time mentor Louie Alas.
"May understanding na kami (We already have an understanding) and we'll just have to iron out some things, like the (coaching) staff. But other that, okay na," Garcia said in a phone interview with The STAR, adding he expects things to be finalized within the week.
Alas quit after the Knights got plastered by three-peat champions San Beda in three games in the Season 88 men's basketball finals. Under his tutelage, Letran snagged three NCAA titles (1998, 2003 and 2005) and made 10 Final Four appearances.
First order of business once everything's finalized, according to Garcia, is to lure back Alas' son, Kevin, the Knight's top gunner for one more run at the title. The young Alas has expressed reservations playing his fifth year to focus on Gilas 2.
"My first job is to talk to Kevin, and other players na kailangang bumalik (who have to come back), explain my system for them to understand it and make them realize how I can help the team make it back (to the finals at least)," Garcia said.
A once-upon-a-time football player with Letran Squires and basketball player with the Knights basketball squad, Garcia returns to coaching in college hoops. He previously called the shots for St. Benilde from 2005 to 2007 and led Welcoat to a title in the Philippine Basketball League. He also took the helm when Welcoat joined the PBA before giving way to Guiao.
"After my stint at Benilde, I gained experience and being under coach Yeng has given me a lot of learning. There were setbacks but that's all part of coaching. This time, I hope to help Letran make it," he said, adding Alas' feat is a tough act to follow.
"It's very hard to duplicate what coach Louie did, especially with the short period of time I'll have. I would take it one step at a time and hopefully if I get the right players to play under my system (we'll achieve success) ," he said.
Aside from Garcia, the Knights also considered veteran coach Larry Albano, coach of the Samboy Lim-led three-peat champion Knights (1982 to 1984), for the job.