After steering Nazareth School of National U back to the top of the UAAP juniors basketball tourney, Bullpups coach Jeff Napa is now ready to shift his focus on a new coaching challenge with reigning NCAA seniors cage champion Letran.
Napa, 35, admitted he can now sit down with Letran management for the Knights’ coaching vacancy after helping NU defeat De La Salle-Zobel 96-75 and claim the UAAP Season 78 juniors cage title at the Filoil-Flying V Center in San Juan.
“Alam niyo naman na (kung anong school) kaya mag-uusap na kami,” Napa told sports scribes, finally breaking his silence on his impending coaching gig with Letran that has been running in the rumor mill since early February.
If and when he reaches a deal with top Letran officials, Napa will be taking over the coaching spot left by Aldin Ayo who bolted out of the Knights camp in stunning fashion and accepted the lucrative P9 million, three-year contract to handle UAAP powerhouse La Salle in November last year.
Napa, however, isn’t looking that far ahead, saying he plans to savor the Bullpups’ third title in the last five years, underscoring one of the country’s successful high school programs.
“Siyempre magpapahinga muna ako kahit isang araw. Ayaw ko munang isipin ‘yun. Ie-enjoy ko muna ang championship na ‘to,” said the former National U standout, who once scored 43 points, spiked by a league-tying 10 triples made, against Adamson in their UAAP men’s cage match in 2002. “Makakatulog na ako at makakakain na rin ako ng maayos.”
Although he gave an inkling that he has already been in exploratory talks with Letran officials before, Napa admitted nothing is cast in stone yet, saying: “Nagkukwentuhan lang kami. Nasa mode pa lang ng kwentuhan.”
Napa added he appears to have gained the blessing of NU management, led by school chairman Hans Sy of SM Group, and the Bulldogs’ coaching staff, headed by chief tactician Eric Altamirano.
But Napa is not to rush into things.
“Mag-uusap muna kaming lahat bago kami mag-desisyon. Lahat ng coach nangangarap mag-coach (sa college). Pero hindi ko naman minamadali ang lahat. Nasa tamang pagkakataon lang rin yan. Ayaw kong pressure-in ang sarili ko. Gusto ko munang tapusin ang trabaho ko bago isipin ang mga ganyang bagay,” he said.
Although he is facing a daunting task of sustaining the Knights’ winning tradition, Napa is unfazed.
“It’s a challenge for me kung ano man ang magiging desisyon ko. Hindi ko alam (kung ano ang naghihintay sa akin) pero handa akong harapin kung ano man ‘yun. Mahirap magsalita pero basta ako, wala akong regret kung ano man ang magiging desisyon ko,” he concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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