Setting players free is the hardest part of a coach’s job.
Sammy Acaylar can attest to that.
Acaylar, the seasoned mentor who will steer the national men’s team to the 29th Southeast Asian Games this August, confirmed that he allowed Coleen Bravo and Jamela Suyat to bolt out for newcomer Creamline in the Philippine V-League.
The relationship between Acaylar and his players is already torture-tested.
Bravo and Suyat were part of the University of Perpetual Help squad that completed a rare grand slam in Season 89 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association before things went downhill as they missed their first Final Four appearance last season.
They also emerged empty-handed in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) when they were part of young and developing Amy’s Kitchen last year.
Now, a new journey is set to unfold.
But giving them the green light to go was never easy for Acaylar.
In fact, he was surprised when he found out in social media that Bravo and Suyat have already joined Creamline without prior notice.
“Si Jamela, hindi nagpaalam. Unlike Coleen na nagkakaintindihan na kami.”
Both Bravo and Suyat were projected to join Sta. Lucia in the PSL together with other NCAA stars such as Djanel Cheng, Janine Navarro and Lourdes Clemente.
It, however, appeared that they have other plans.
Things got rocky when Acaylar formally learned that his two wards would be leaving for Creamline.
In the end, Acaylar wished them well to their new journey without any hard feelings or trace of bitterness.
He also asked them to always look back as product of Perpetual Help.
“I gave them the chance to play for other team kasi ‘yan ang gusto nila eh.”
“Hindi naman ako ‘yung coach na pipigilan sila, hindi. Gusto ko rin na maranasan nila yung ibang coaching at training styles.”
It will be the first time in five years that Bravo and Suyat would step out of their comfort zones, but it’s all part of growing up.
And Acaylar would be the happiest to see them succeed.