MANILA, Philippines — The San Beda Red Lions are one of the oldest and proudest basketball programs in Philippine college hoops, guaranteeing that any head coach who takes over the team will have to deal with a substantial amount of scrutiny.
New Red Lions head coach Jamike Jarin is well aware of this, most especially with the team aiming to extend their dynasty by winning a sixth straight NCAA men's basketball championship.
"Of course there's pressure. Any high profile job, any high profile program it's always going to be pressure," Jarin told the media during the press conference of NCAA Season 91 on Monday, June 22.
"I'm just happy I'm back with my alma matter and helping these young guys achieve their goal," he said.
Jarin, who graduated grade school and high school in San Beda, was hired to take over for Boyet Fernandez who was given an opportunity to coach the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA D-League. Before Fernandez's departure, he led the Red Lions to two consecutive titles, the latest after a two game sweep of the Arellano Chiefs in 2014.
Although new to his job, Jarin already sees some progress in the relationship between him and his players.
"I like what I see. Everybody will say you have a new coach, you have to adapt to his system. It's both ways. You adapt to them, they adapt to you," he said. "I look at it both ways. It's never they will adapt to me. Before siguro when I was young, when I was starting to coach, medyo may pagkaganon ago (I was a bit that way), but this time no. It's always a two way road."
Jarin admits tactics on the basketball court isn't his strong suit - even if he's been admired for his up-tempo and defensive oriented style of play - but says that his ability to establish good rapport with his players will be there.
"My biggest strength is my personal relationships with the players. So that is my strength that will be given 110% in the game," said Jarin, who's moving from coaching youth national teams of the Philippines to college boys.
"I love it," he said about the change. "I love the situation. I also coached 15 years with Ateneo in college but as an assistant. Nothing new naman eh... It is still basketball. Just a different level, different age bracket. But same concept. You have to stop them and they have to stop you."
Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
Outside of facing re-tooled rivals, San Beda will also have to deal with the fatigue that could potentially affect their star players' play. The trio of Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer and Art Dela Cruz have spent the last few months playing multiple games for Hapee in the D-League, plus Amer was also in action for the Philippines in the recent SEA Games.
Jarin, however, is confident he has enough bench depth to make up for the wear and tear on his main guys with the season scheduled to open this Saturday, June 27.
San Beda will kick off the season against Mapua Institute at 1 pm at Mall of Asia Arena, followed by Arellano University against Jose Rizal University at 3 pm. The games will be the first televised live by ABS-CBN as part of their 10-year output deal.
"That's why we always develop from player one to player 15. That's how we run things. We have a deep bench... all 15 players are ready to come in and play," he said.
"Everybody in our team is prepared but of course when the lights come in, when the drums come in, it's different."
He added: "Come Saturday we just have to prepare these young men for the battle in the coming NCAA season."