COACHES GEARING FOR FINALS

COACHES GEARING FOR FINALS

📅13 March 2013
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By Patrick Lujan

The two championship coaches couldn’t have a more different resume heading into Saturday’s IIAAG Boys Basketball Championship. Okkodo Bulldogs head coach Ed Manalac is in his first year as the varsity coach, taking over for Rey Serafico at the beginning of the season, while St. John’s Knights head coach Fred Peters goes after his first title in his 14th year on the bench.

What is in common is that they both knocked out the top-seeded teams Tuesday night in the semifinals: the Bulldogs shocking the favored FD Friars 62-45 while the Knights forced overtime in dramatic fashion before beating the St. Paul Warriors in overtime 60-57.

GSPN gets into the minds of both coaches leading up to the big game Saturday at the UOG Field House which will be live streaming on www.guamsportsnetwork.com.

FRED PETERS, St. John’s head coach (14th yr.)

Knights Cedric Sevilla driving in on the St. Paul Warriors during the semifinals. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights Cedric Sevilla driving in on the St. Paul Warriors during the semifinals. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Pre-season expectations: This has been our goal and we thought we had the team to win the championship, so our pre-season goal was to win the championship.Top three offensive plays you run: Uptown, Special K and RGIII.

Go-to defensive set: Half-court man-to-man is what we play.

Explain the balance of your team: I would say it’s the leadership we get from everybody. Five guys out of 10, they had to come back to the National Honor Society Induction Ceremony after the semis (on Tuesday). The intelligence and the ability is there.

The feeling after beating St. Paul: In that locker room after the game, the feeling was that it was just one more hurdle to get to the championship game. Frankly, there wasn’t a lot of celebration. The feeling was relief more than celebration. The goal is to get to the championship, not just to beat St. Paul.

Explain Argie’s 3-pointer to tie the game with five seconds on the clock: That was on him. We put the ball in his hands and he makes the decision. We could’ve drove it hard to the basket and get a quick two, but he said he had a clear shot. I saw him make that shot a thousand times in practice. It wasn’t necessarily drawn up that way, but he took the shot and he made it (off a pick straight away four feet behind the line).

Knights Daniel Del Carmen got a big block on Warriors Jason Aquino in the fourth quarter during the semifinals. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights Daniel Del Carmen got a big block on Warriors Jason Aquino in the fourth quarter during the semifinals. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Share the preparation between now and Saturday: Three practice days. (On Wednesday) an hour and 15 minutes, a lot of shooting. We’re certainly not going to go too hard because some of our guys are still nursing injuries. We’ll have a scrimmage on Thursday and do light workout on Friday for 90 minutes, work on inbounds plays and game situations. Maybe do a shoot around on Saturday and let it all on the line Saturday night.Scariest player on Okkodo: Aaron Blaz. I’m concerned of him going off. He can go 25-30 points. We just played them a week ago in the last game of the season. It was a tied game and he scores five points late in the game. We’re going to try and get the ball out of Aaron’s hands as much as possible.

Are the players excited that the game will be aired live?  Yes. Our 50th Annivasary Gala is on Saturday night, s0 it will probably be on the big screen and certainly be on people’s phones down there. Win or lose, the guys are going back to the Gala. When we found out GSPN was going to stream live, they were incredably happy. I even called my family in the states and they’re going to watch it. All the players have families all over the world that can watch them play. We really appreciate it.

ED MANALAC, Okkodo head coach (1st yr.)

Pre-season expectations: A championship was the goal. I was the new head coach so it was a new system, although I kept some of Rey (Serafico)’s stuff. Realistically, I knew it would be a work in progress and hope we peak at the end of the season and make a run at the championship.

Top three offensive plays you run: Fist, Kick and Pop.

Go-to defensive set: man-to-man

Bulldogs' Joel Oyardo attempts the fade away over Friars' Michael Sakazaki and Bruce Merrill after grabbing the offensive rebound during the semifinals. (photo by Errol Alegre, jr.)

Bulldogs’ Joel Oyardo attempts the fade away over Friars’ Michael Sakazaki and Bruce Merrill after grabbing the offensive rebound during the semifinals. (photo by Errol Alegre, jr.)

Explain the balance of your team: I think our advantage is our guards (Aaron Blaz and Joel Oyardo). They get us going. We’re not as dominant inside compared to the past years, but our big guys have really filled in and stepped up. It came down to them knowing their role. They gave opposing big guys a tough time and grabbed rebounds. The bulk of our scoring comes from our guards. When Aaron is on, he’s hot and Joe (Ruppen) can really play multiple positions so he gives us versatility.The feeling after beating FD: I have a lot of respect for that program. As one of the younger coaches (30-years old), that’s one of the programs we try to emulate. It was unbelievable, especially a guy like Coach (Tony) Thompson is one of my influences coaching. He even trained me to be FIBA certified. It’s just a really good feeling.

How was the 4th quarter explosion by your team (23-7 run): It came down to getting stops and limiting them to one shot and getting that rebound. The guys really buckled down, applied pressure and when it came down to it, we were hitting our free throws to seal the game.

Share the preparation between now and Saturday: We’re definitely going to get good practices in. We’re going to talk about what St. John’s does well and figure out a way to slow them down. We know they have a lot of fire power and we really respect them. They’re coming together and jelling. The way Argie shoots the ball and Reed (Meyer’s) athleticism. Daniel (Del Carmen) can catch fire any time. If we play defense the way we’ve been playing the past few games, we should give ourselves a chance to take it.

Friars' Christian Chang tries to contest the long jump shot from Bulldogs' Joseph Ruppen during the semifinals. (photo by Errol Alegre, jr.)

Friars’ Christian Chang tries to contest the long jump shot from Bulldogs’ Joseph Ruppen during the semifinals. (photo by Errol Alegre, jr.)

Scariest player on St. John’s: They have two but I’d say Argie Flores because the kid is not scared to shoot. He’ll have two guys on him and he’ll throw it up and it’s an accurate shot. He’s got a pretty good supporting cast so it’s going to be hard to focus on him.Are the players excited that the game will be aired live?  Of course. I’m excited. You don’t get many opportunities that people around the world can watch you play. It’s an experience for everybody and we appreciate that you’re doing that for Guam basketball.

NOTES: Both team have one high school championship each: St. John’s in 1995 and Okkodo in 2010…Knights seniors Flores, Reed and T.J. Atalig have played all four years and have never beaten the Bulldogs…both teams are from the Taga Division: Okkodo finished in 2nd at 12-3 while St. John’s was the third seed at 8-7…The Knights have three seniors while the Bulldogs have five…Coach Peters led the Knights girls team to the championship game this school year but lost to the Academy Cougars…Coach Manalac started his coaching career from 2005-2010 at Astumbo and Benavente Middle Schools…He is a health instructor at Okkodo High…Coach Peters was on the men’s basketball silver medal winning SPG team in 1998…with the better record and higher seed, the Bulldogs will wear the home white uniforms while the Knights will wear the visiting red uniforms.

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