Tuesday 23 July
Feb 9, 2019 @ 19:51

Chris Tiu pays tribute to former basketball coaches


The former Rain or Shine guard’s heart is overflowing with gratitude.

Happy Lemon part-owner Chris Tiu went all out in honoring the people behind his successful run as a basketball player.

Among them was Coach Norman Black, his coach during his last playing years at the Ateneo De Manila University and the 2011 SEA Games.

Chris ended his 6-year professional basketball career early January to become a full-time businessman.

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Coach Norman Black was my head coach in Ateneo from my 3rd to 5th playing year in the UAAP. He was also my coach in the 2011 SEA Games team in Jakarta, Indonesia. When coach Norman first took on the head coaching job in Ateneo in 2005, I sat out as I was doing my exchange program in Lille, France. When I returned in 2006, I was included in the starting 5 along with Macky Escalona, JC Intal, Doug Kramer and Rabeh Al Hussaini. We all know Coach Norman is probably the most successful collegiate coach, winning 5 straight rings. Apart from his wisdom, he always did his homework in preparing the team and scouting. For me, his ability to communicate and breakdown drills to the detail to young players is what stands out. He explains things very clearly and orderly. Of course, we give credit to the dedicated coaching staff who remain to be instrumental to the Blue Eagles until today. My 3 biggest take aways from coach Norm: 1) Learn to say sorry. Before, I had a tendency to always reason out and argue when I was being corrected or when suggestions were made. Then one time, coach Norm gave me an unsolicited advise which I’ll never forget. He said there’s no need to be right, just say “it’s my fault” & move on. Those words had the biggest impact on my life. It improved my relationship with my coaches and teammates. It helped us to stop pointing fingers & just focus on the common task. Even today in marriage, when there’s an argument , i learned that it’s ok not to be right , it’s better to be happy. Just through a simple “sorry”. 2) Norman always reminded us that consistency is so important. He always told us that “you’re only as good as your last game”. That challenged me to always be aggressive & hard working day in an day out. Hence, I tried my best to make my last game worth remembering. 3) Save your legs!! I would always over kill myself in training. When it’s game time, I would have heavy legs and have a sluggish game. So every time it’s the day before a game, Norman would always remind me to “get off your feet” and “save your legs”. This made me fresh during games. I changed my routine since. Thank you Coach🙏

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Except maybe for hard core basketball fans & Ateneo supporters, the name Sandy Arespacochaga probably doesn’t ring a bell. This is because he prefers to work behind the scenes. Coach Sandy was the first person to formally express interest to recruit me for the Ateneo Seniors UAAP team when I was doing my rehab in Moro Lorenzo when I was still a senior high school student. He was my head coach for a year in Ateneo & we’ve worked together in various teams after. There are many celebrated Ateneans. But what makes me proud to be an Atenean is when I see people like coach Sandy, a product of Ateneo, exceptionally humble and truly a Man for Others. He is one of the most genuine and concerned coaches I’ve ever worked with. Before you even ask for help, he’s already beside you giving advise and listening, regardless if you’re a superstar or the 12th man. I remember before he would even go to the court during lunch breaks to pass me the ball while I take my extra shots, a job usually done by the utility boys. Until today, I approach Sandy for advise, and I’m happy we’ve become great friends. Thanks Coach Sands! Oh btw he’s also the official team comedian 😂

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Continuation of my tribute to my coaches throughout my career.. Coach Rajko Toroman was like a father to me, more like a grandfather actually. He invited me to be part of the first Gilas Pilipinas program right after I graduated from Ateneo, where I played for 3+ years. I was very fortunate because his European system (lots of screens and quick movement without the ball) allowed me to thrive , since I am not a talented 1-on-1 player. His basketball sense was so high, I learned so much from him. The PH was blessed to have him. He loved our country & we shared the same passion for basketball. He lived & breathed bball. He knew everything about college & amateur leagues & every other league around the world. He taught us toughness, discipline & teamwork, in the true sense of the word. We were forbidden to be 1 minute late from call time & he would always arrive before us. One time in China, I woke up late bec I took meds for colds & missed my alarm & they had to call our room w/ Marcio. I was shaking and sweating, not from the flu but from fear. Even during weights sessions, he was always present. When abroad, he required us to gather outside the dining hall 5 mins before meal time, then walk in all at the same time, eat together and leave together. I guess that’s why we all developed such a strong bond. Nap time was strictly for nap and we had curfew. One time in Serbia, we players went to a bar w/o permission, thinking it was ok cause we were all together. Next thing we knew, Coach Räjkö was at the bar, fuming. We were shaking in fear. We had the highest quality practice the next day & no one smiled or spoke a word 😂 Thank you Coach Räjkö for pushing me to my limits! You gave me confidence & countless opportunities. You made me a tougher person and I’m honoured to have been your captain! All the best coach!

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