It was a tough loss. The Bulldogs were a point away from defeating the UST Growling Tigers. The final score was 57-58, with NU losing in overtime. As the team headed for the locker room, I saw pain etched on their faces. But coach Eric Altamirano was quick to lift their spirits.
The NU coach was quiet. But his eyes were always surveying and studying the environment. He exuded calmness and remained unperturbed.
Altamirano admitted that the last game was a heartbreaking loss. Yet, he remained optimistic and acknowledged that everything happened for a reason.
Just as a father would ask his children, the NU coach asked the team, "Did you give your best?" He said this several times, with each getting louder. They team chorused back, "Yes!"
Satisfied with his squad's answer, he invited everyone to huddle. Everyone knelt and he led them in a brief and heartfelt prayer. Then everyone stood up smiling. They all then shouted: "Together!"
Later at dinner, Altamirano who is fondly known as "Coach E" joined the team. During the meal, you can hear father-and-son-like banter between Coach E and his team.
When dinner was over, he made sure the boys were back in their quarters, which are housed at the National University. His day wasn't over. He went to Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan, where two of his Bulldogs were undergoing a medical check-up.
Jean Mbe, the veteran center, complained of pain in his waist. Third year forward Jeoffrey Javillonar, on the other hand, had an inch-long cut between his eyebrows. Both injuries were sustained during the squad's face-off with the massive frontliners of the UST Growling Tigers.
Mbe received first aid, while Javillonar's cut was stitched and medications were prescribed. According to Anton Altamirano, Coach E's son, both players were okay.
"Okay na," he announced in a tweet, answering a question as to how Javillonar and Mbe were doing.
Later, Altamirano's son tweeted again.
Coach E is more than a coach to his players. He also plays the role of a father to his extended family of boys.
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.
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