📅16 January 2014
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By Robert Balajadia

Legendary former GCC Basketball Coach Bob Richards made his return to Guam since 2003 and was greeted has been visited by a handful of his former players. Richards will be on Guam for about a week and his main reason for coming back was to share some time with the men who helped build his coaching legacy.

“Guam is Guam because of the people. I don’t want to take all the credit for the success, a lot of these guys already had the talent,” said Coach Richards on coming back to Guam.

Coach Richards reminisced and shared stories about some of the iconic Guam basketball players, including the likes of Joey “Pretzel” Gogue, Frank Cruz, John Borden, Eddie Lorenzo, Roy Utig and Ray Flores.

“I remember when we were in Japan, Frank Cruz twisted his ankle and was hobbling around the court. I tried to pull him out of the game, but he didn’t want to get out. Guam kids are pretty gutty and I admired that,” shared Richards.

He also recalled the hustle and intangibles of Borden, who he often remembered diving for loose balls and making all the hustle plays.

When asked about Gogue, who many consider the best basketball player to ever come out of Guam, Richards couldn’t admit to doing anything to make him a better player.

“[Joey] got ‘there’ by himself,” Richards put it. “I focused a lot on defense because a lot of our guys were good shooters and good offensively. I always told our players that handwork was going to get us somewhere.”

But ‘Pretzel’ said otherwise.

“Coach Richards, truly taught me a lot with basketball. Basically, the true fundamentals and techniques of the game. We never had two-hour practices, he always had us run our plays until it was how he envisioned it. Once we joked, that maybe we should buy him a two-hour clock so he can release us from practice at that time frame. I kind of compare him to Coach Bob Knight,” said Gogue.

Gogue continued to praise coach Richards with touching remarks saying,

1982 GCC Tradesmen“That is why we were always on top of our game. We practice during Christmas vacation and also, during school activities, always wanting that edge over other teams. I carried everything he taught me to how I played and coached. For me, he was a WHIZ of the game – a lot of knowledge & preparation before a game whether it was pre-season or during the season to also getting ready for Far East. I will always cherish this man in my heart. He’s one of the top mentors in my life along with my dad and Ray Topasna) I am sure all former players of Coach Richards were touched in a lot of ways by his teachings. My brothers Mike & Vince also were coached by him, and my sisters Maggie Trecia, and Levonne, too. So he also, had a share of GOGUE’S in his life. I truly thank God that I had this experience under Coach because he guided me during my high school years as a player & a student of the game. God bless him & his family.”

Hard work was the foundation of Richards teachings having the boys run long practices followed by scrimmage after scrimmage.

Of the players, Cruz had nothing but positive things to say about the coach while praising him for many of Cruz’ current accomplishments.

GCC82“Coach Richards is one of my life hero’s. Coach Richards drew something out of me that made me want to strive to be great in basketball and I took that passion for wanting to be great and carried it on to anything I did in life.”

Cruz’ most fond memory comes from being a 3rd stringer on the junior varsity team to a varsity starter.

“He pushed me so much over the summer to be a better player so I worked hard and was selected as Varsity starter. We won 10 consecutive championships and in my senior year we were the first Guam team to ever play in the finals of the DOD Boy’s Far East basketball tournament. I owe a whole lot to Coach Richards for helping me be the person I am today and for making me feel like a winner.”

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