NCAA basketball

Former King Archer Renren Ritualo to coach Greenies

Naveen Ganglani
Former King Archer Renren Ritualo to coach Greenies

NEW ROLE. Renren Ritualo signs his contract with the La Salle Green Hills basketball team.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

(2nd UPDATE) A four-time UAAP champion, former Green Archers star Renren Ritualo hopes to steer La Salle Green Hills back to title contention

MANILA, Philippines – From King Archer to coach.

Former De La Salle Green Archers superstar Renren Ritualo has been named the next head coach of the La Salle Green Hills in the NCAA juniors basketball tournament.

Ritualo confirmed the news on Friday, July 29, after the contract signing between both sides was completed. 

“I’m honored to be given the chance to coach and to inspire other players and students,” Ritualo told Rappler during an exclusive interview. 

“I’m really thankful to have this opportunity. Since I retired, I wanted to help La Salle. This is the perfect timing for me.”

Ritualo, a four-time champion with La Salle during their UAAP dynasty from 1998 to 2001, will handle the task of steering the Greenies back to title contention.

The Greenies haven’t won a championship since clinching their first NCAA high school title in Season 93 (2017-2018) when they were led by current UP Fighting Maroons hero Joel Cagulangan.

A move weeks in the making, Ritualo formalized the deal with La Salle Green Hills athletic director Marvin Bienvenida on Friday afternoon, reuniting him with the educational institution where he is revered for his contributions as a collegiate student-athlete. 

Ritualo said his immediate concern was to deliver victories, more than the contract duration of his first major head coaching gig with La Salle.

“My goal is all about winning. If you’re going to ask me, of course, winning is everything,” said Ritualo in mix of English and Filipino.

“It’s not fun if you’re not winning – so [we want to win] as soon as possible. I can’t give a deadline or timeline when we’ll be a champion, but I want to win right away.”

Ritualo said former teammates Mac Cuan and JR Aquino will be his assistant coaches, with the rest to be filled out leading up to the next season as discussions continue to take place. 

He has yet to meet the players of his team but plans to do so soon. 

“We’ll just finalize the staff then we’ll have a coaches’ training this coming week,” said Ritualo. “Then we’ll have tryouts when the classes start, and conduct training from there.” 

‘Combination of everything’

The Greenies will have a few notable standouts who will play their final year of eligibility this coming season, led by Gilas Pilipinas Youth standouts Seven Gagate, Ethan Alian, and Luis Pablo. 

Ritualo has watched highlights of Gagate – an 18-year-old, 6-foot-8 modern big – and says he’s “very happy he’s going to play with us.”

As far as the system he plans to implement, it will be “a combination of everything” he learned from all his head coaches and clinics both here and in the US.

“I learned a lot from the national team coaches and other countries,” he added.

The now 43-year-old mentor was the co-finals MVP of the 1996 San Beda Red Cubs team which won one 16 titles under legendary high school coach Ato Badolato. 

Ritualo committed to La Salle for college and won the UAAP Rookie of the Year award in 1997, but his Green Archers lost in the finals – for the fourth straight year – against FEU.

Under the leadership of new mentor Franz Pumaren, who Rituato would grow a long-lasting bond with, La Salle broke through from perennial runner-up to win the UAAP Season 61 title against the Tamaraws.

Ritualo’s Green Archers went back-to-back by outdueling a UST team which he admitted gave him nightmares during an epic three-game finals series, saved in large part by the clutch shot of teammate Dino Aldeguer to force overtime in the clincher. 

Despite being the underdog, La Salle swept FEU in the 2000 finals for a third straight crown and then outlasted rival Ateneo in a heated three-game finale to win the Season 64 championship a year later. 

Prior to the knockout match, Pumaren made Ritualo the promise of retiring his jersey at DLSU if the Archers would achieve the four-peat. True enough, Ritualo helped seal the deal for the Green Archers and was named Finals MVP.

His jersey number now hangs from the rafters of the Enrique Razon Sports Complex along with other La Salle greats – basketball players Lim Eng Beng and Kurt Bachmann, volleyball star Manilla Santos, and late table tennis standout Ian Lariba.

The four-time UAAP Mythical Five member was picked eighth overall in the 2002 PBA Draft and would win that season’s Rookie of the Year award with FedEx.  

Ritualo enjoyed a 12-year PBA career which included a championship, two All-Star appearances, and a three-point contest crown. 

He was also a three-time champion in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL), won MVP in the 2000-2001 season, and named one of the league’s 20 greatest players ever.

In 2021, Ritualo was inducted into the La Salle Sports Hall of Fame.

Ritualo was working as a private basketball skills coach in the early 2010s to help improve the shooting mechanics of collegiate and pro players, including former Green Archers star Jeron Teng.

In 2015, he was hired by Pumaren as an assistant coach in his staff with the Adamson Soaring Falcons, who would make the UAAP Final Four from 2016 to 2018. 

Following years with ambitions to coach his own team, Ritualo finally gets his wish and will do so for colors he’s well accustomed to. – Rappler.com  

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