Allen Ricardo focuses on building Letran Knights’ character

Letran Allen Ricardo NCAA

FILE–Letran Knights coach Allen Ricardo. –Photo from Letran

MANILA, Philippines—Letran will usher in a new era in Knights basketball in the coming NCAA season with newly-minted head coach Allen Ricardo at the helm.

Ricardo, who called the shots for the Squires in their historic back-to-back title runs in the NCAA juniors’ division, takes over the coaching reins for a Knights team that struggled mightily last season.

What makes Ricardo’s transition to the men’s program a bit more anticipated is the fact that he’s bringing along the important pieces from his Squires squad that exceeded expectations for the past two NCAA seasons.

READ: NCAA: Letran Knights tap Allen Ricardo as interim coach

However, Ricardo doesn’t want to overthink things as he puts a premium on player development on and off the court.

“Of course, I’m happy to lead Letran but at the same time, the title as a head coach is just a title,” said Ricardo following Letran’s 81-79 win over San Sebastian in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup at San Juan Arena on Friday.

“The most important thing for me is how to change my players’ character and attitude on and off the court because for me, what’s important for us is the relationship we build. Championships will come and go but the importance of our bonds and what I did to help them grow is bigger,” added Ricardo, who was officially named head coach of the Knights recently after being tapped on an interim basis last February.

Last season, the Knights finished with the second-worst record at 2-16 coming off three consecutive championships.

Ricardo may be new to the collegiate scene but he’s no stranger to molding winners after guiding the Squires to the Season 99 crown even without the services of high school sensation Andy Gemao.

READ: NCAA: Letran Squires go back-to-back in juniors basketball

Adding a winning coach to a losing team could equal a turnaround for the Knights.

But Ricardo knows that the formula to winning is not that simple.

“It’s quite early to predict things but somehow we’re slowly gauging the competition and we can see… That we’re still pretty far away,” said Ricardo, who played high school varsity at Lourdes School of Quezon City.

“San Beda’s good. EAC’s good. But that’s how we’ll start [with losses]. We hope that we get to that level. We’ll target that first but for us, all in all, the important thing is we have the discipline on and off the court. We’re just in that stage.”

With Ricardo’s arrival comes the departure of coach Rensy Bajar.

But Ricardo made sure that everything’s fine and dandy with Bajar and the Knights before he assumed the position.

“We’re good,” assured Ricardo with a smile.

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“We’re good friends with coach Bonnie Tan and coach Rensy. That’s life as a coach, you’re always just good as your last game. Coaching is just a passion and for me, I’m very passionate about the game and I just want to instill everything I learned when I started coaching and eventually it’ll materialize.”