Joel Banal believes son Raphy is "in good hands" with former understudy Isaac

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Twenty-eight years ago, a freshman named Leo Isaac came to Mapua to play for the Cardinals, and one of their key players then, Joel Banal, mentored him.

That said mentorship bore fruit as Isaac became the 1981 NCAA MVP and had a 10-year PBA career that earned him two championships with his first, Ginebra's 1986 Open Conference finals conquest, as the more notable one because of his lockdown perimeter defense.

"He has the desire to win. He won't quit. He's proven that," Banal, currently the commissioner of the PCBL, described to some sportswriters on Sunday during the PBA Draft at the Robinson's Place Manila Atrium how Isaac was during his playing career.

Now into the present: Isaac, the current coach of Blackwater, now has a good chance to return the favor, getting the opportunity to hone Banal's son Raphy after selecting him as the first overall pick of the regular draft.

"Ang sabi ko kay Raphael, 'You're in good hands with Coach Leo, Coach Bong Ramos (another former teammate of Isaac and the older Banal at Mapua), and even the Blackwater family.'" Daddy Joel, one of only two coaches to have won at least one title each in the PBA, the PBL, the NCAA, and the UAAP, told the media what he said to his son.

Raphy, following a stellar high school career with Ateneo and the RP Youth Team, gave US college ball a try, starring for Victory University and finishing his tertiary studies at Hope International before retaking his talents back home.

"It is a five-year plan for him to go to the States. It paid off by being number one in the regular draft. He got it. I'm so happy for Raphael and Blackwater," the former mentor added.

Asked for his reaction, the younger Banal said, "Coach Leo is a great coach. I know him since he was a young kid. I look forward to being coached by him."

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