After the resignation of resident tactician Tonichi Yturri, former Green Archer Pocholo Inigo “Cholo” Villanueva stepped up for the head coaching duty.
The newly minted Coach Villanueva led the Team B in the recent Fr. Martin Cup. Archers’ playmaker L.A. Revilla supported him, and served as his assistant coach.
In addition, Villanueva is assigned to hold practice sessions for the first-string Archers, who rested for almost a month.
The Green-and-White squad last saw action in their lost battled against eventual UAAP finalists, the FEU Tamaraws last September 11.
Coach Villanueva is only going to manage the practices, and it is up to the new coach to decide on what competitions the team will join.
He also stated that he is open to taking the Team A coaching post if offered to him, but said that such instance is unlikely to happen. As for now, he is focusing on coaching the Team B, and will only do his part in keeping the Team A active.
Once a Green Archer
Before standing at the sidelines and calling the shots, Villanueva once don the fabled Green Archers jersey. He was instrumental in the Green Archers 2001 and 2007 championship run; he was adjudged co-MVP together with recent PBA top draft Jvee Casio in 2007.
Villanueva’s post-Archer career, however, mostly revolves outside the court. Despite being drafted by Air21, he missed out on playing since he had an recurring injury of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He then pursued other careers such as a guidance counselor and part of the Special Education Department in Reach International School. Currently, he is juggling on and off-court jobs by also working for Maynilad as the Training Manager and Leadership Department Head.
Villanueva decided to have a more stable career by opting to be a professional off the hard-court; however, his passion and competitiveness for basketball will always be there.
Shifting to coaching
During his veteran playing years as a Green Archer, Villanueva grasped the coaching system. He discovered a knack for coaching, seeing the game outside from playing.
The love for basketball made him accept the challenge of being the coach for Team B of the Green Archers. Villanueva’s coaching initiation was with Coach Franz Pumaren last 2008 and with Coach Yturri for the Team B from 2009 up to the appointment.
As a coach, Villanueva focuses more on defense. He considers forcing turnovers to run for fast breaks as the best strategy. He also expects that the Archers Team B would be more competitive this year.
“As long as they have the effort and fire to play, everyone in Team B can move up to Team A,” Villanueva remarked. Coach Villanueva eyes key players like Luigi Pumaren, Ferdinand, Aiki Herrera and Mark Jayven Tallo.
Fr. Martin Cup acid test
Villanueva opened his coaching career on a high, after a blowout win against Colegio de San Lorenzo in the continuation of the Fr. Martin Cup.
He then braced the team for a skirmish against the San Sebastian College-Recolletos Team B Stags last September 25. Despite the valiant efforts shown by the second-string Archers, the boys from Legarda copped the win by three at overtime, 95-98. Villanueva said that mental lapses down the stretch caused them the game.
They then clashed with the UP Team B last October 1 in a must-win game to keep their quarterfinals hopes alive. The match-up ended in controversy as Ferdinand’s block of Fighting Maroon Alvin Padilla’s attempt immediately resulted in a shot clock reset. Miguel Reyes received the leather giving the Diliman-based squad an extended lifeline with 26 seconds left and UP holding a 77-76 advantage.
The Archers got a chance to close out the game with Tallo’s trey attempt but was denied by Mark Lopez at the buzzer.
Game-high scorer Ferdinand protested that the UP team had a helping hand with the officials, while Coach Villanueva filed a protest after that crucial incident. The Green Archers team B finish with 3-3 record, excluding the controversial loss.
“They gave a good effort. They gave their heart, they gave their 100% of the game and that’s all I wanted,” said Villanueva.
Eventually, the protest was successful and a rematch of the UP-DLSU game was ordered; however, the Maroons decided to forfeit the game, earning Villanueva’s boys a ticket to the tournament quarterfinals with a face-off against San Beda’s second-stringers.
The Green-and-White were then formally eliminated with a loss against the Mendiola-based dribblers.
With closing remarks of the Fr. Martin Cup drawing close, Coach Villanueva is seeking out for competitions that his squad can join. Surely, this is not the last of the Team B Archers in the months to come.