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Green Journal: Cholo Villanueva

After competing in the Breakdown Basketball Invitationals 2019 Alcatel Cup Summer Tournament in the women’s U25 (under 25) division, placing fifth overall, The LaSallian sits down with head coach Cholo Villanueva for his first Green Journal feature. He shares fond memories about being a Green Archer, playing under coach Franz Pumaren, playing in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), and growing into his role as the Lady Archers’ lead tactician.

Playing for the Green Archers

Cholo Villanueva played for the Green Archers from 2001 to 2007—winning two championships in his rookie and final year—while under head coach Franz Pumaren. Villanueva states that his most memorable time with La Salle was the 2007 championship where he was awarded co-finals MVP alongside Jvee Casio. He also played with Rico Maierhofer and Ty Tang, when as the Green Archers redeemed themselves in Season 70. Despite a year of suspension during the prior season, the team from Taft successfully put a stop to the UE Red Warriors’ undefeated run in the finals. “It was my 2007 Championship. It was the most memorable one because it was my last year; I graduated from La Salle and won a championship at the same time.”

From athlete to head coach

One can say that Villanueva adjusted seamlessly. As someone who was once a player following instructions from his coach, all his experiences came in handy when he was the one who had to call the shots for his players. “All the things that I’ve been doing for the past five to six years as an athlete [is] still fresh for me. Starting as a coach right after being an athlete really helped me a lot. But through the years, I have [improved] on the things that I’ve been doing on the basketball court,” he affirms.

Another key aspect that keeps athletes and coaches motivated are the people they draw inspiration from. For Villanueva, inspiration takes the form of his family, “First is my family, having the purpose of doing things or the motivation [to do] doing things for my family. One person who made an impact in my life, especially being a student athlete, is Coach Franz Pumaren. I learned everything from him especially here in La Salle—values on and off the court.”

DLSU LADY ARCHERS HEAD COACH Cholo Villanueva talks about his transition from being a player to the lead tactician.

As Villanueva was once a pupil of Pumaren, he picked up a thing or two from his former teacher and instilled his own tactics in his own team. “Mostly, when I was starting, about 80 percent of what [I was] doing, I learned it from [Pumaren]. But as they said, being a coach, you evolve your system, and you put in your own identity into your own schemes or system.”

Meaningful experiences

Playing in the PBA was an experience that helped shape Villanueva into the coach he would become. “It was a great experience. Of course, being paid doing the thing that you love, that you’re very passionate about…so that was a learning experience,” he gladly shares. Now leading teams and molding players, the Lady Archers’ head coach gives credit to his stint as a professional, “[Also], learning from other coaches like Bo Perasol [and] Yeng Guiao gave me a lot of perspectives that up to now, I’m still using as a coach.”

Villanueva is very hopeful for their upcoming season as they move on from a non-Final Four appearance last year. He says, “We just want to keep on moving forward thinking about redemption this year because we were one game away from the Final Four last year. And learning from our mistakes, being a year wiser, a year older as a team, we should be smarter in playing the game.” As the head coach imparts advice to his players, he reminds them that there are no shortcuts to anything. “Just keep on working hard. If you want to get better every day, make sure you stay focused in what [you’re] doing. Not only on the basketball court, but also in the classroom,” he concludes.

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