by Jerome Lagunzad
Louie Gonzalez’s loyalty to La Salle has earned him the biggest break yet of his coaching career.
No less than chief benefactor Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco has elevated Gonzalez from an interim mentor to a full-time tactician in a recent meeting, giving the right-hand man of former Green Archers mentor Aldin Ayo the reins to start the rebuilding process for the next UAAP men’s basketball season.
Gonzalez reportedly declined to join Ayo after the latter had a change of heart during the holidays, reportedly opting to move to University of Santo Tomas rather than stay on with La Salle.
Former Far Eastern University coach Glenn Capacio will serve as Gonzalez’s top deputy while former Barangay Ginebra taskmaster Siot Tanquincen will make his return to the Green Archers as an assistant along with Anton Altamirano.
Deemed as the architect of Ayo’s “Mayhem” defense that enabled La Salle to clinch the UAAP title in 2016, Gonzalez is expected to have his hands full with the Green Archers following the exit of two-time league Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala.
The Cameroonian center decided to turn pro in Mexico.
Gonzalez will have his first glimpse of the daunting task at hand on Jan. 16 when the Green Archers report back for practice ahead of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League slated next month.
For now, Gonzalez has time to plan for his challenging role to date since he stepped into the coaching scene as an assistant to Binky Favis at Letran.
Gonzalez also used to call the shots for the high school varsity team of British School Manila in 2004 before he worked with Capacio during his tenure at the Tamaraws’ camp from 2007 to 2010.
Capacio also brought Gonzalez in as his assistant when he handled AirAsia-Philippine Patriots in the Asean Basketball League from 2009 to 2012 before they moved up to PBA by way of GlobalPort.
When their stint with the Batang Pier ended after one and a half years, Gonzalez and Capacio found themselves together at Kia Picanto where they worked with Ayo, who also served as an assistant.
From there, the trio built a strong bond that saw them taking their collective acts to the Knights, who they led to the NCAA title in 2015, with Ayo taking the lead role.
Afterwards, they packed their bags to help the Green Archers rediscover their winning tradition, eventually leading the Taft-based squad to the Promised Land on their initial stint before bringing them back in the finals last year where they bowed to the Ateneo Blue Eagles.