Emotionally-charged Chris Gavina dedicates PBA debut win to late dad

An emotional new Mahindra lead assistant coach Chris Gavina dedicated his first win as the man in charge to his late father after steering the Enforcer to a gigantic 100-92 upset win over powerhouse Star Hotshots on Friday in the main game of the PBA Governors Cup’s opening day at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Gavina called the shots for the Enforcer in the absence of playing coach Manny Pacquiao.

It was also his first stint as lead assistant for the 2-year-old PBA franchise since replacing Chito Victolero, who resigned last April.

“First, I wanna dedicate my first win to my dad who passed away last year, ” Gavina told reporters inside the media room as he choked in tears.

“I wish he could have shared this experience with me because it’s such a blessing from God above. I’m really grateful and humbled because it’s a dream come true,” he added.

Gavina, a former Mahindra strength and conditioning coach, said he’s blessed to have team consultant and former national coach Joe Lipa to guide him in his first foray in coaching.

The soft-spoken assistant coach said Lipa reminds him of his late father Sonny Gavina, who is also a basketball fanatic.

“He’s (father) just like coach Joe. He’s crazy, (for basketball) and having coach Joe around kinda reminds me having dad around,” shared Gavina, who returned to the Philippines after migrating with his family to the United States when he was 3 years old.

“Coach Joe Lipa is s such a great inspiration and motivation for me coz what he has provided to Philippine basketball and his insights and knowledge just pays

Gavina also credited youthful import James White for energizing the Enforcer as the former Georgia Tech forward finished with 22 points and 8 rebounds.

“James has such a tremendous heart, such a great kid with great character, ” said a beaming Gavina.

“This was his very first professional experience outside the US and he really wanted to breed his confidence here.” – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava