Former Star Player and Now Coach Elvis Rocks MPBL with the Shoemasters
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“Basketball has been very good to me and my family. Because of the sport, I was able to finish college. I want to share this gift with others, especially the youth,” said Elvis Tolentino, the youthful looking coach of the Marikina Shoemasters.
Coach Elvis, as he is commonly called, knows what he is talking about. He had been a varsity player for most of his school life. He had played basketball for Colegio de San Juan de Letran in high school and for De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde in college, where he was part of the team that brought the school its first championship win in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in year 2000.
Until now, that historic win by the Blazers (as St. Benilde’s varsity team is known in the NCAA) basketball team against the San Sebastian Stags 18 years ago remains one of the favorite topics in college basketball talks because it was only the school’s fourth year in the NCAA and yet it brought home the top honor. It was also remarkable since the Blazers defeated its more experienced rival in the league.
“Ang mga Filipino kasi, kapag nasa court, isa lang ang goal niyan. Ang manalo,” said the 40-year-old Coach Elvis in an interview, recalling that brave and heroic day of his college days. He credited the motivation he received from their coach and the intense discipline and teamwork exhibited by the team to win.
Mentoring the New Generation of Ballplayers
Today, nearly two decades later, it is his turn to motivate a young group of dreamy and determined basketball players of the Marikina Shoemasters, the city’s team playing at the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup. This is the first time that Marikina is fielding a team in the MPBL, now on its second conference for this year.
Coach Elvis worked hard to ensure that Shoemasters would be part of the league since joining it requires a lot of money. Aside from the P10 million franchise fee, there is a tournament fee of P200,000 per conference and a P200,000 bond. He helped raise the amount needed to join the league from generous benefactors.
“Ako ang naghanap ng mga tutulong to raise the money. The team is backed by the LGU (local government unit) pero walang ilalabas na pera. Naiintindihan ko naman iyon dahil ang focus at priority ng LGU is on infrastructure, education, health, benefits to senior citizens at marami pang iba,” said Coach Elvis, who divides his time as a husband, a father to two sons, coach of the team and a businessman.
Coach Elvis, a native Marikeño, is proud to finally be coaching for his hometown. He helped put together the team composed of 20 players aged 19 to 36 years old. The average age is about 24-25, he said. Most of the players are students and the rest are already working, including popular actor Gerald Anderson.
Of the 20 players, eight are from Marikina, exceeding the requirement of the league that at least three should come from the city they are representing. Gerald, who is not from Marikina, plans to move in the city, attracted by its clean and orderly environment, Coach Elvis added.
How is he as a coach?
“I am a disciplinarian. I install discipline para maging successful kami,” he said. “It’s a developmental team. Very young. Hindi sila binabayaran ng malaki. Allowance lang, pero they work very hard for the team. Sobra ang dedication nila.”
Actor Gerald does not get a special treatment and has to work as hard, or even harder, than everyone else in the team, he said.
The team practices six times a week, two to three hours each time, and usually at the Marikina Sports Center, where the players agreed to be photographed after the interview with Coach Elvis.
Basketball, and sports in general, is not just about being physically fit, Coach Elvis said. One must also be mentally alert, smart, disciplined, a team player, magnanimous in victory and can accept defeat with humility because not everyone wins the game. These same traits are what one needs to also win in life, to be successful in one’s chosen field, he added.
The Court of Life
In a way, the basketball court (or the boxing arena, the softball field, the swimming pool, volleyball and tennis courts) mirrors life in general. While a person is there to win, backed by months, and even years, of training and preparation, in the end, only one wins and gets the prize. Defeats are part of the experience and what is important is to bounce back, move on and get back in the game.
“Kaya naging advocacy ko ang sports. Maganda siyang training ground for the real world,” said Coach Elvis. “Maraming makukuhang values at lessons sa sports – tulad ng hard work, discipline, teamwork. You need them in your daily living. Education practices the brain. But you have to have a healthy body so you can maximize the use of your brain.”
Coach Elvis does not just preach. He practices what he preaches. After finishing a business management degree, he put up his own business, a restaurant and a barber shop. He also studied in various coaching clinics in the United States and worked as a coach for several teams, including the PCU Dolphins before becoming the coach of the Shoemasters.
He credits his father, Loreto (Ato) Tolentino, a well-respected basketball player and coach and considered one of the best coaches in the NCCA, for honing his talents both as a player and a coach and for inspiring him to always give his best. Coach Ato, who used to be a star player for Great Taste, has mentored some of the best PBA stars we have today.
As they say. Like father, like son.
For more about the Marikina Shoemasters and the MPBL, please check out their Facebook pages
(Photo credits: Cla Martinez Badong of MASIDO and Facebook page of Shoemasters)
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