MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra star LA Tenorio and several others paid tribute to legendary high school coach Ato Badolato, who died on Sunday, December 19.
Tenorio heard the sad news of his former San Beda Red Cubs mentor passing moments after delivering a clutch performance in a 125-121 overtime win over Phoenix in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday.
“You are a big reason why I’m in this position,” Tenorio wrote on Twitter in Filipino. “I am indebted for everything you did for me as your player.”
Badolato turned San Beda into a powerhouse in the NCAA juniors ranks as the Red Cubs captured 16 league championships.
He also produced several future PBA players, among them Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Gerry Esplana, and Eric Altamirano.
Esplana and Altamirano followed in the footsteps of Badolato as they went on to become head coaches of various teams in the collegiate and professional level.
“I learned the basic fundamentals through your program. I learned to play organized basketball through you. I became successful in my career because I have a strong basketball foundation,” wrote Esplana on Facebook.
“Being under your wing has been a blessing to my life. Good bye coach Ato, my mentor, father figure, and friend,” Altamirano wrote on Facebook.
Even Gilas Pilipinas mainstay Kiefer Ravena, who currently plays for the Shiga Lakestars in the Japan B. League, had a chance to learn under Badolato in the National Basketball Training Center.
“Appreciate everything, coach Ato,” Ravena wrote on Twitter. “You gave me my first ever ‘salary’ when i played for you in NBTC. You’ll forever be remembered.”
The wake of Badolato is open for public viewing at the San Beda University in Mendiola starting on Monday, December 20. – Rappler.com