MVP back to Ateneo, Perasol new Blue Eagle head coach

In a memo released November 26, Monday, University President Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ confirmed that Pangilinan would return as one of Ateneo University's biggest donors

Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan. Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – It looks like it was never really over for business mogul Manuel V Pangilinan and his alma mater Ateneo de Manila University.

In a memo released November 26, Monday, University President Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ confirmed an earlier Inquirer report that said Pangilinan would return as one of the university’s biggest donors.

His return also means that the Blue Eagles will finally have a new head coach in former PBA coach Bo Perasol.

He will take over the role vacated by Norman Black starting December 1.

Villarin said in the memo that over the past few days, he had been meeting with Pangilinan to forge a “more open and constructive partnership.”

“Our dialogue touched upon various matters (both immediate and long-term) that involve the Ateneo de Manila,” he added in the memo.

In September, Pangilinan announced that he would be cutting ties with Ateneo, citing the school’s stand on contentious issues such as mining and the Reproductive Health Bill. Pangilinan heads the country’s largest gold producer, Philex Mining Corp.

The search for head coach

According to Villarin’s memo, it was MVP who arranged a meeting between Perasol and the Ateneo president.

Even before the 75th University Athletic Association (UAAP) season ended, Perasol was picked by the university’s “search committee” to replace Black. The committee met again on Friday, November 24, and affirmed their recommendation.

The day after Game 2 of the Finals series, former head coach Norman Black returned to the pro leagues as head coach of Talk N’ Text. 

Perasol was named Black’s replacement but with Pangilinan’s “disengagement” from the university, those plans were scrapped–both the university and Perasol separated on good terms.

Between Black’s formal exit as head coach and today, several names were floated around to replace him–from Blue Eagle assistant coaches Sandy Arespacochaga and Jamike Jarin, to Philippine-born American cager Alex Compton.

Perasol’s return as heir to Black’s throne may mean an adjustment or two for the Blue Eagle squad, who until now have been “using the same system we’ve had the past 8 years,” according to team manager Paolo Trillo.

Funding for Ateneo sports?

Now that Pangilinan and Ateneo have “kissed and made up,” what happens to all the funding they collected for the “Basketball Endowment Fund?”

In the memo, Villarin said it will be expanded to the “Sports Endowment Fund,” and will be used to fund sports aside from basketball.

Pangilinan and the MVP Sports Foundation have also “agreed to infuse this fund with a significant donation,” said Villarin.

FIVE STRAIGHT. Norman Black has led the Blue Eagles to five straight basketball crowns in the UAAP. File photo by Josh Albelda.

Season 76 Blue Eagles

Perasol will inherit a squad rich with experience. Under Black’s mentorship, the Blue Eagles have won five straight championships.

But the champion squad will look different next year. Two key players will be bidding goodbye to the Blue and White. Both back-to-back Finals MVP Nico Salva and star center Greg Slaughter have maxed up their eligibility years.

Seniors Oping Sumalinog, Justin Chua, and Tonino Gonzaga will also be leaving.

Two other players have the option of skipping their fifth and final playing year: Ryan Buenafe and Frank Golla. “We don’t want to put pressure [on players] to stay. We want them to stay, but that’s [their] prerogative,” Trillo said of the two in an earlier interview with Rappler.

The Blue Eagles are set for a UAAP championship series “rematch” on Tuesday, November 27, in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) finals, where they face UAAP runner-up UST.

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