Baculi to call the shots for GlobalPort

GlobalPort owner Mikee Romero and coach Junel Baculi are keen on reliving that old magic.

After their successful team-up with the Philippine national basketball team in 2007, Romero formally hired Baculi Thursday as the new head coach of the Batang Pier, a move that has long been in the rumor mill.

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Baculi, who resigned as Barako Bull coach last November, will take over the coaching mantle from interim coach Glenn Capacio, who is expected to be the GlobalPort’s lead assistant coach.

With Capacio calling the shots, the debuting Batang Pier endured a tumultuous debut in the Philippine Cup, dropping all but one of their 14 elimination games before bowing out in 10th place, no thanks to a spate of injuries to ace gunner Gary David and a handful of close-game heartbreaks.

Now that they’ve got the services of Baculi, Romero and the rest of the Batang Pier hope to turn their fortunes around in the coming Commissioners Cup which fires off in early February.

Although he’s still seeking his breakthrough title in the pro league, Baculi gave a good account of himself in the now-defunct Philippine Basketball League, winning numerous titles with Hapee Toothpaste and Fash Liquid Laundry Detergent, among others.

The former Mapua Cardinal also stamped his class in the international stage. With Romero providing the needed financial support, Baculi steered the Nationals–built around the country’s crack amateur standouts–to back-to-back titles in the SEABA joust (Ratchaburi) and in the Southeast Asian Games (Nakhon Ratchasima) in Thailand.

Now, the Batang Pier are keeping their fingers crossed that the Romero-Baculi partnership will work wonders anew.

Meanwhile, Capacio, in an interview with Yahoo! Sports, gamely accepted the management’s decision, stating: “Last year pa naman, alam ko na status ko–interim lang talaga. Kaya alam ko na anytime, pwede silang magpasok ng full-time coach.”

This early, Capacio, a former Far Eastern University star, also disclosed he’s willing to help GlobalPort in any cause, adding: “Depende na kay coach Junel kung ano ang ibibigay niyang role ko sa team. Basta tatanggapin ko naman kung ano man ‘yun and full-support rin naman ako sa management.

“I’m grateful to Glenn for accepting the challenge as our interim coach and laying the foundation of the team. He’s a very humble and down-to-earth person,” said Romero.

Baculi, who led the Energy Cola to the semifinals in the previous Commissioners Cup, is expected to meet the Batang Pier and conduct their first practice today at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside the Ateneo campus.

While some of the teams have already picked their reinforcements for the mid-season tourney, Erick Arejola, basketball operations chief of GlobalPort, bared they’re on the look-out for a tall and mobile import who will enable them to hold their ground against the league’s big guns.

"We already have three possible candidates but we still have to discuss it with coach Junel," said Arejola.

Baculi’s hiring is the second coaching twist that struck the pro league this week after Barangay Ginebra elevated consultant Alfrancis Chua as the new head coach in lieu of Siot Tanquingcen.

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