Nearly four months after Aldin Ayo bolted to accept a lucrative deal with UAAP powerhouse La Salle, reigning NCAA seniors basketball champion Letran has finally found his replacement in three-time UAAP juniors cage champion coach Jeff Napa.
Fresh from steering the Nazareth School of National U to its third UAAP title in the last five years at the expense of De La Salle-Zobel last Friday, Napa, 35, will be formally introduced on Tuesday morning at Salon de Actos inside Letran’s main campus in Intramuros, Manila.
The hiring of Napa hardly came as a surprise since the former National U standout has emerged as the frontrunner last month to fill up the coaching position left by Ayo, 38, who ended what was supposed to be a four-year love affair with the Knights after steering them past their archrival, the San Beda Red Lions, last October on his rookie season for Letran’s first NCAA title in the last 10 years.
Ayo, a former Letran stalwart who also won a pair of NCAA crowns in 1998 and 1999, got the attention of other big schools, including La Salle which eventually gave him an offer he cannot refuse, leading to their stunning parting of ways with Letran last November.
While Ayo, who took over the coaching mantle left by one-time UAAP champion coach Juno Sauler, has started to hit the ground running for the Green Archers, the Knights can now commence their new journey with Napa, who has become one of the most sought-after young coaches following his immense winning tradition in the high school ranks.
A former NU star who led the Bulldogs to their first-ever stint in the Final Four stage in 2001, Napa served as an assistant to Eric Altamirano in the Sampaloc-based squad’s historic UAAP men’s cage title run in 2014 when they ended the school’s 60-year title drought at the expense of Far Eastern U. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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