Rizal-Xentro Mall will be banking on a youthful tactician come the fourth season of Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) after tapping Jonathan Banal to man the sidelines.
The team announced the signing through its Facebook page, Thursday.
The 31-year-old will be replacing former Ginebra star JV Gayoso at the helm.
“It felt surreal when the team owner told me the news I was so happy,” said Banal.
Besides this, Banal, who was the NCAA Season 83 Rookie of the Year, serves as an assistant for the Mapua Cardinals and the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.
It will be a tough mission for the young Banal as he will be tasked to turn things around for a Golden Coolers squad that finished dead-last in the North Division with a disappointing 7-23 win-loss record in the Chooks-to-Go-backed league.
“First we have to build a more competitive team, then change the mindset of the team na we will be no pushover team. I will just do my best to motivate them every day,” shared Banal.
He will have a huge chunk of help with the re-signing of key cogs Jordan Rios, Mark Benitez, and former NAASCU Rookie of the Year Nikko Panganiban to two-year extensions.
But Banal will be leaning on Cebuano scorer Eloy Poligrates, the team’s latest free-agent acquisition, to lead at the front.
“Eloy [Poligrates] is a great player. He will be a big boost sa team lalo na on offense. For sure, he will bring excitement sa mga games and sa mga fans because of what he can bring to the table. He is one of the experienced players on the team and I expect him to lead both on offense and defense,” he said.
And the pressure of coming from the Banal clan simply won’t stop Jonathan from doing his best for his squad.
“Sa basketball there is always pressure to perform. And pressure also kasi mga champion coaches lahat ng mentors ko but it is normal to feel pressure. I will just have to give my best every day,” said Banal, who is following the footsteps of his dad Koy and uncle Joel.
Al Vergara, Don Uro, and Dexter Rosales will complete Rizal’s coaching staff.