For LA Tenorio, the late coaching legend Edmundo “Ato” Badolato played a significant role in his life and career.
Badolato, who passed away recently at age 74, has left a big mark on Tenorio when was still a young player with the San Beda Red Cubs back in high school.
“Doon nag-start ang career ko sa kanya as a player. Kaya malaki ang utang na loob ko kay coach Ato,” said Tenorio when he visited his former coach’s wake last week, alongside many players, who Badolato developed in junior play.
Tenorio, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s top point guard, talked about his thoughts on Coach Ato during his internment at San Beda-Mendiola on Monday.
Under Badolato’s watch, a lot of junior players emerged from the SBC high school basketball program as among the most sought-after cagers in college.
Badolato began developing players back in the 1960s soon after the Red Cubs tasted their first junior championship in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“Siya ang nag-mold sa akin as to who I am right now. I was with coach Ato nu’ng time na developmental stage ko as a basketball player,” said Tenorio, who played for the Ateneo Blue Eagles in college later.
Badolato was considered as one of the best high school coaches then, before he retired and became San Beda’s basketball and athletic director in 2004 as he continued looking for potential standouts in their pre-teens, whom he can help develop.
In the cases, where he couldn’t to do it by himself, Badolato would usually refer these standouts to good coaches, who in turn took good care of them.
With Badolato handling the San Beda Red Cubs, the squad won 15 of their 23 high school cage championships.
Among the players that blossomed under Badolato were Tenorio, champion coach Eric Altamirano, Borgie Hermida, Benjie Paras, Dindo Pumaren, Ronnie Magsanoc, JVee Casio, Ren Ren Ritualo, Britt Reroma and Baser Amer.
“We learned a lot from him. We will never forget him,” said Ritualo, who eventually played for La Salle in college and is now an assistant coach of the Adamson Falcons.
Two of the Philippine Basketball Association’s 40 Greatest Players include Magsanoc and Benjie Paras, and Badolato was influential on how they grew as players back in high school.
La Salle standouts LA Revilla and Ateneo cager Nico Salva also traced their roots from Badolato’s coaching clinics and youth programs.
Gerald Esplana, Paul Du, Ford Arao and Tyrone Bautista also saw themselves getting great lessons from Coach Ato.
Altamirano, who won two PBA championships with Talk ‘N Text and Purefoods and a UAAP title with National University as a coach and an athlete with the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, gave credit to Badolato’s coaching and pieces of advice.
When he left high school, played in college and later became a pro and eventually a coach, Altamirano never forgot to seek Badolato’s counsel. He even asked him to take part when he later organized the National Basketball Training Center as its training director.
Badolato also closely watched the progress of Reroma after he saw the young player when he suited up for the Philippines’ BEST Center 12-under team in Las Vegas.
Now coach of the National University Bullpups, Reroma has gone a long way since he was a 12-year-old protege of Badolato.
“Coach Ato was like a second father to me. Kung hindi dahil sa kanya, hindi mangyayari ang lahat ng nagawa ko ngayon,” said Reroma, who credits the discipline that Badolato imposed on his players during games and while in practice.
Reroma played for the Red Cubs from 1994 to 1996, with the team winning the last of two years of that stretch, including an unbeaten run in his final season. They also won the National Students Championship.
That batch involved a lot of great players, such as Ritualo, Jenkins Mesina, Xavi Nunag, Miko Roldan, Mark Jomalesa and Casio.
“He reinforced in me values that I have applied as a coach and as a person, the values of discipline, hard work, and humility. Plus, he was never late to any practice or even any game throughout his career,” added Reroma, who moved on to coach the Red Cubs in 2010, before he went on to handle University of San Carlos Junior Warriors, who won the CESAFI junior crown in 2015.