Tyrone Conrad Tang, more popularly known as “TY”, is one of the steadiest and most cerebral point guards that has played in the UAAP, as he spearheaded the offense of head coach Franz Pumaren during his playing days for the DLSU Green Archers. Tang went on to win a championship with La Salle before moving on to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), wherein he played for seven years and also won a title.
Today, he is in his first year as head coach of the College of Saint Benilde (CSB), a job which he was appointed to back in December 2016, more than a year after announcing his retirement from the PBA. While being a head coach is an unsurprising development for a guy with Tang’s caliber, the former Green Archer will face new challenges in his role as head coach of the Blazers.
Making the transition
Even before going into retirement and accepting the CSB Blazers’ head coaching job, Tang put up a basketball clinic for kids in Xavier School around the time he entered the PBA. “It runs in my blood, being able to just live and breathe basketball every single day is a blessing to me already.”
With Tang’s experiences over the years, the transition to coaching was smooth alongside the guidance of his former coaches, namely Franz Pumaren, Yeng Guiao, Caloy Garcia, and Mon Amador. Being mentored by them, he picked up traits that he learned and incorporated them into his own coaching style. “You [got to] be a workhorse not only during the games, but during practice because it’s really during practice that would make you perform better during the games,” he shared.
This formed the fundamentals of his knowledge, helping him hone his skills as a basketball player. Furthermore, Mighty Sports also contributed to his coaching shift by allowing him to be a playing coach in the Philippine Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) and by supporting him in CSB right now. Tang briefly came out of retirement in 2016 to play for Mighty Sports alongside former Green Archer, Joseph Yeo. “Right now, being able to compile just all that, putting it in one playbook and being able to share it with now the future players of the next generation.”
Likewise, his experiences as a former player allow him to connect with his student-athletes better. “There would be times wherein you will need to motivate your players and just by sharing one of your experiences wherein they can relate to, it just gives them a lot of more positive energy, a better mindset and preparations in terms of how we want to run the practice, not only practice but also during games.”
Aside from Pumaren, Tang still keeps in touch with his former teammates such as Cholo Villanueva, now the current head coach of the DLSU Lady Archers, and Renren Ritualo, an assistant of Pumaren at AdU. “Everybody especially if you’re an alumni in La Salle, it’s a small world. We normally talk to each other when we see each other, about everything under the sun, but normally it’s mostly basketball.”
Now, Tang has a greater duty being a head coach, as he not only looks out for his players but the entire organization itself. “It’s more responsibility but I’d say it’s also more fulfilling, one day if we become successful, it’s basically what I’ve envisioned from day one and if everything comes to reality, that’s what’s gonna be, I guess, I’d say my legacy here in CSB as being the head coach of the team.”
With two seasons under his belt, Tang shared that his ultimate goal for the CSB program is to win the championship but he wants to take it one step at a time. “Of course, it might not be now, it’s a long process, we just have to trust in it, believe in it, and direct everybody to one page.”
Taking over as the head coach of the CSB Blazers is not an easy task to accomplish since the program has languished in the bottom half of the NCAA standings. “It’s really a challenge to start from scratch especially when they’ve been from rock bottom ‘di ba?”
Unlike his playing days when victories were almost natural every game, the former Elasto Painter wants to bring the winning mentality that he experienced back then to a young program that only entered the league almost 19 years ago. “Remember, a goal is always a goal until you don’t achieve it. Wala lang yan eh, pangarap lang pero that’s why you envision, that’s why you have bold dreams of getting there because that’s the vision and you wanna work towards that goal and hopefully, with what we’re doing here for the next how many years, that goal will become a reality by that time.”
The long term goal for Tang and the Blazers will always be the NCAA championship but he has set short term goals for the team in order for them to inch closer to their objective. Winning games, improvement in terms of individual skills, understanding of the game as an athlete, and putting everyone’s egos aside are the short term goals that Tang wants the team to accomplish first. “Walang superstar dito, everybody is of the same level from first person to the last person.”
With a huge improvement regarding their win total, Tang stated that their first goal next season is to get into the Final Four as he expects his new recruits to contribute in right away as well as the individual improvement of some players currently in the team. “We’ll definitely give it a try next season, a serious try next season.”
Not all former players can become coaches but with hard work, Tang thinks anything is possible. “First and foremost, they have to be open-minded every single time because there’s a lot really to learn as a coach, not as a player”, was Tang’s initial answer when asked if he could provide tips to former players that want to take on the same path like him.
“Number two, you have to be humble because basketball is something that is not patented, walang copyright. Lastly, just know your capabilities and be who you are.”