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The son also rises

By Jerome Lagunzad

While top amateur cagers Kiefer Ravena and Jeron Teng are eager to follow the footsteps of their accomplished fathers, Bong and Alvin, in playing at the pro ranks, Anton Altamirano is doing the same albeit in a different path.

The former St. Benilde stalwart has already put his hoop dreams in the back burner and has shifted his full focus on improving his craft in the field of coaching, hoping he could duplicate – or even surpass – the success that his proud dad Eric has achieved so far.

Unknown to many, Anton admitted it was his “personal choice” – and not by his father’s influence – that prompted him to try his luck as a tactician even when he’s still suiting up for the Blazers in the NCAA seniors basketball tourney.

“During my last year sa Benilde, mas interesado na talaga ako tumulong sa coaching staff kaysa lumaro. Mas okay na nga akin ng mga panahon na ‘yun na nasa bench na lang ako kasi natutulungan ko ang mga coaches namin basahin ‘yung laro,” he shared in a phone interview yesterday.

Altamirano, who played alongside current PBA players Carlo Lastimosa, Paolo Taha and Jonathan Grey at St. Benilde, added he skipped his last two years of eligibility to play with the Blazers to give himself more time to learn the intricacies of coaching.

“Tinanong lang ako ni Dad nun, ‘Kung maglalaro ka pa, maglaro ka. Pero kung magko-coach ka, mag-coach ka na lang.

Mahirap kasi gawin ‘yung dalawang bagay na ‘yun ‘pag nagkasabay.’ Eventually, nag-decide na rin ako na mag-coach na lang,” he said.

Unlike Eric, who played an instrumental role in University of the Philippines’ title run in the UAAP in 1986 and even plied his wares in the pros despite a series of injuries, Anton admitted he no longer dreams of reaching such destination – even if he’s still at a young age of 26.

“Ang advantage ko lang siguro kay dad, mas maaga na akong nagkaroon ng idea dito sa coaching compared to him,” he said, in between laughs.

Recently appointed by La Salle’s top brass to handle the Green Archers’ Team B in preparation for future UAAP men’s cage battles, Altamirano had a fair share of coaching chores during the Bulldogs’ UAAP title romp in 2014, with his father Eric calling the shots.