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Former MBA coach Dandan on his PBA debut: "It's different here"

Ricky Dandan says the PBA is a totally different league than the MBA. PBA Media Bureau
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--It has been 20 years since Ricky Dandan last became a head coach in the professional basketball ranks.

Dandan became the first head coach of the Manila Metrostars during the inaugural season of the MBA in 1998, leading the team to the league semifinals, also known as the conference finals, only to succumb to eventual league champs Pampanga Dragons in the Northern Conference Finals.

Fast forward to Wednesday night.

Dandan is back as a play-for-pay league gaffer, this time with Kia in the PBA.

Asked by some reporters on how he felt in his first head coaching foray in the premier top-flight cagefest, Dandan said, "It's different here. The players and the coaches are very good."

Interestingly, his first game as a PBA head coach came against a member of the 1998 Metrostars team, current Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero, and the club duplicated a 47-point rout of Kia.

[Related Story: Magnolia spoils Dandan's pro ball comeback, hands Kia 47-point defeat]

This is Kia's worst loss since also losing by 47 points against the same Purefoods franchise last conference.

[Related Story: Star completes shutout of Kia, stays in Top 4 hunt]

The turning point was the third quarter, where the Hotshots outscored the Picanto, 34-11, to turn a close fight at halftime to a laugher.

"From my recollection, we played according to plan in the first two quarters only to suddenly play differently in the third," Dandan rued. "We knew that Magnolia has a veteran team. We knew that they would make a move in the third quarter, but we were unable to stop them. I tried to encourage our guys to make a comeback obviously to no avail."

Although it was official debut as Kia head coach--or technically his second game as what Former Head Coach Chris Gavina told Dugout Philippines upon confirming his departure--Dandan thinks he has been with the team for so long now.

"I feel like I've been coaching here forever," he further said. "It's tiring. I feel very tired."

The Picanto have now dropped their last 15 games dating back to last season, the longest skid the PBA has ever seen since the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters, formerly the Welcoat Dragons, also lost 15 straight matches as per league statistician Fidel Mangonon, with the last two being blowouts of 23 points or more, but for Dandan, "We just have to move forward and get better. There will be a lot of adjustments, but we need to maximize the roster that we have regardless of who we play and the situation. We just have to suck it up, move forward, and try to find ways to make the score closer and give us a chance."

Interestingly, their next game will be against another former Metrostar, Coach Alex Compton and the Alaska Aces on Sunday night back at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno