By Brian Yalung
THE Centro Escolar University (CEU) Scorpions have officially announced the appointment of Chico Manabat as the team’s new head coach.
He succeeds Jeff Napa who has been heavily linked to taking over the vacant head coaching position of the National University Bulldogs. Ironically, it was also Napa who brought in Manabat to CEU to act as one of his assistants.
Manabat confirmed his appointment during the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) Usapang Sports on Air via zoom meeting sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Games and Amusements Board (GAB) and PAGCOR on Thursday
Manabat now holds a bigger role with CEU, taking over from Napa who barely got his feet wet. Regardless CEU management has expressed confidence in the 42-year-old coach.
“CEU always welcome opportunities to develop, not just players but even coaches. We have faith in coach Chico’s talent,” CEU management said in an official statement.
CEU started its aggressive push in 2010 and joined the PBA D-League in 2011. The Scorpions joined the PBA D-League that year.
It would be best to note as well that CEU has a history of giving assistant coaches the chance to be the team’s head coach. Among those who went that route include Mon Jose, Yong Garcia and now Manabat.
Jose was at the helm with CEU debuted in the PBA D-League. He would be succeeded by Egay Macaraya, the chief architect of the Scorpion’s 2014-15 PBA D-League Foundation Cup triumph at the expense of Hapee.
Rodrigue Ebondo was the main man for the Scorpions at the time, scoring on a running shot with only 1.8 seconds left in the championship game. It was the first PBA D-League title in franchise history.
After Macaraya, other coaches who followed include Garcia, Derek Pumaren and Napa.
From that PBA D-League title conquest, the Scorpions have remained formidable in succeeding seasons. They had two bridesmaid finishes, ironically both against Cignal-backed teams.
CEU finished second to Cignal in the 2016-17 PBA D-League Foundation Cup and again in the 2019 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup. But of the two, it was the latter that is more memorable.
Playing with only eight players, the Scorpions surprised many when they managed to make it to the PBA D-League Foundation Cup final. Even more surprising was that they took game 2 of the series against the Blue Eagles.