FOR Misamis Oriental basketball coach Albert "Dodo" Bernados, there's still life and coaching career to go back after experiencing a near-fatal stroke attack some years ago.
Coming back from comatose after sleeping for over a month in a hospital bed, the now 49-year-old Bernados sprung back to life as he recently guided the Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori School (SHJMS) Baby Saints into winning the elementary crown of the Private Schools Athletic Association (Prisaa) Meet basketball competition in Cagayan de Oro City.
Like their spirited coach, the Sacred Heart Baby Saints literally rose from the grave as they fought back from 15-point deficit to complete a come-from-behind 47-42 win over the visiting Infant Jesus School of Bukidnon (IJSB) from Valencia City in their one-off championship game at Pilgrim Christian College (PCC) gymnasium.
It was Sacred Heart's first championship win in elementary level since school owner Marcelino Neri has given the green light for Bernandos to form Sacred Heart's elementary squad in 2019.
"I felt like being alive again after tasting my first championship win with Sacred Heart, though I already mentored the MisOr team into winning more than 50 hoop titles in the past before I suffered a stroke and luckily woke up from comatose situation," a bit slurred-speaking Bernados told SunStar Cagayan de Oro.
Fortifying Sacred Heart's triumphant roster were top gunner Asi Decatoria, defense specialist Zack Kirkley Echano, the streak-shooting pair of Alberto Labandero and Niño Krowst Tagocon, shot blockers Pol Flores and Kryan Jann Tambilawan with the able support of Ike Flores, Wilverine Bullecer and Kareem Jareem Buna, among others.
The Baby Saints, behind their run-and-gun tactics, overwhelmed at least three Bukidnon teams and Cagayan de Oro's Kong Hua School in the elimination round before their epic showdown with Infant Jesus School dribblers in the final.
A former disciple of Cebu's famous coach Yayoy Alcoseba and assistant coach to Oro's grizzled bench tactician Edgardo "Boy" Dacoco, Bernados was all thankful to Sacred Heart parent in former Cagayan de Oro College (COC) varsity stalwart Jeckyl Dablo for his maiden success with the Baby Saints.
With his difficulty in speaking terms, Bernados said it was Dablo who translated and explained his instruction to the team. The amiable Dablo, Bernados said, was also partly instrumental for the elementary team build-up as a very supportive parent and, in fact, grandpa to the towering Sacred Heart center Tambilawan.
"I can't speak directly and talk straight basketball lingo like i used to be, but i still remember all the plays. Even modern techniques that I've learned from the NBA games I have them in my head and execute with Jeckyl's big help," Bernados said.
And he did not miss in acknowledging Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny "Bambi" Emano for unconditionally helping him out to survive.
"Aside kay Boy Dacs (coach Dacoco) and Sir Neri for all the breaks and support, patay na siguro ko karon kon wala ko gi-atiman ni Governor Bambi sa dihang inutil na ug walay trabaho. Dili ko makalimot maong sa akong kaugalingon gapaningkamot gyod nga mo rise up bisan galisod pa'g lakaw ug pag estorya. God will find a way basta dili lang 'ta mo give up," Bernados added.