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Will it be Altamirano for La Salle?

By Jerome Lagunzad

One-time UAAP champion coach Eric Altamirano looms as the likely successor for the La Salle coaching post vacated the other day by Aldin Ayo.

The temperamental Ayo is reportedly taking his act to University of Santo Tomas although there was no official word yet from the officials of the Espana-based school.

While there’s strong speculations that former Green Archers center Richard Del Rosario is in line for the highly-coveted job with the help of two-time Grand Slam winner coach Tim Cone as an active consultant, all signs are pointing to Altamirano, 51, making a much-awaited comeback in the elite UAAP coaching circle.

Altamirano previously called the shots for National University for sixth straight years, highlighted by the Bulldogs’ stirring title run in 2014 that ended the school’s six-decade drought.

While he’s currently serving as an assistant to Alaska tactician Alex Compton, his close friend, in the pro ranks, Altamirano should not find it difficult taking a dual role if and when the Green Archers team management offer him the coaching vacancy.

According to an unimpeachable source yesterday, La Salle’s chief patron Danding Cojuangco is all set to sit down with the Green Archers top brass and members of their coaching staff today at the San Miguel Corporation main office in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City to sort things out following Ayo’s sudden change of heart.

Having little chance to retain Ayo, who steered La Salle to the Promised Land last year and another finals run in the recent UAAP tourney, the Green Archers could start plotting for the future as part of their rebuilding process after two-time reigning league MVP Ben Mbala decided to turn pro just a week ago.

The first step should be naming a full-time tactician who will take over the coaching reins from interim mentor Louie Gonzales, who’s been tasked to supervise the Green Archers’ training sessions after the holiday break.

And don’t be surprised if Altamirano gets the nod since he has strong family ties with Cojuangco, who had a close and harmonious relationship with his late father-in-law, respected broadcaster and columnist Louie Beltran, father of his wife Marissa.

Altamirano’s son, Anton, has been earlier appointed – by Cojuangco no less – to handle La Salle’s talented Team B and is being groomed to serve as the Green Archers’ newest assistant for the next season, according to the source.

The elder Altamirano could also get the full trust and confidence in earnest of other La Salle’s so-called “godfathers” since he handled Flying V, owned by Raffy Villavicencio, the Green Archers’ long-time team manager, in the previous PBA D-League Foundation Cup.

Meanwhile, Del Rosario, a former pro cager who previously called the shots for St. Benilde in the NCAA, politely declined to make any comment to Tempo-Bulletin regarding the fast-developing situation.

Even Cone, 60, whose Filipina wife Cristina Viaplana is a proud La Salle alumnae, said he’s not been approached by the Green Archers management for such consultant role.