Doble: Nerd makes it big

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By Henry G. Doble

Take Two

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


COME September 27 to 29 in Jakarta, the Philippine 18-Under team will challenge the best of FIBA World 18U 3 x 3 as representative of the Asia region.

Where's China, the team we can't hurdle ever since the giant Reds surfaced in the mahogany court. We threw the best players and coaches ever assembled from the PBA, hire imported mentors and still nothing.

Now here comes John Flores. He was a basketball nerd. He was the assistant to Ricky Dandan and Rico Perez when the late Bro. Rolly Dizon brought the Joe Lipa boys to the University of St. La Salle here in Bacolod.

Surprised? Little John does not look like a player. He can be beaten by his player anytime one on one. Just like Rico.

John used to coach elementary students, was a lieutenant of the more senior Perez and Dandan in the junior and varsity squads. All of them returned to the big city years back when their basketball knowledge seemed to fade and the local coaches started calling shots successfully.

The last time we saw Flores, the nice guy was coaching a girls or women team in the UNIGAMES here.

Now he is in a position where other noted national mentors failed. Compare John with Robert Jaworski, Norman Black, Tim Cone, Yeng Guiao, R. Toroman, and Chot Reyes.

You cannot fault John if he is in the right place and the right time. It may be just a 3 on 3 but who cares. It's a big deal.

Friday, May 24 in Bangkok, his team of Arvin Tolentino, Thirdy Ravena, Kobe Paras, and Prince Rivero, beat India, 21-19 in the FIBA Asia finals. China was stunned as the Filipinos walked away with a 22-18 semifinal win. Japan was a 21-18 victim as well in the quarterfinals.

As you see, Flores is destined to guide these boys to the highest level of basketball competition. The last time the Philippines competed in a world stage was in 1978 when the country hosted the World Championship where we finished eighth place.

Just like the San Antonio Spurs, who will wait for the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, John has Tolentino (6'5” junior standout from San Beda); Ravena of Ateneo; Paras and Rivero from La Salle Green Hills. Greg (Popovich) has Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili his big three.

Like the Spurs, John and his over-achieving wards have their anxious moments too. Philippines dropped its first game against Qatar, 14-17 but got back at Chinese-Taipei, 20-18 in their second outing for a 1-1 record.

Syria became the next victim, 17-13 and Indonesia had no chance, 20-13 giving the Filipinos the top spot in Group B.

The rest is history and John's story.

In short, one is not required to be an outstanding player to become a successful coach.

As the famous and sometimes infamous coach Bobby Knight (Coach K's mentor) would say: basketball's ratio is 4:1. The first mental, second physical.

Need more nerds?

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 30, 2013.

Sports

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