By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Tributes poured in for legendary high school basketball coach Ato Badolato, who passed away Sunday due to heart failure. He was 74.
“Will miss you Ato. Ikaw ang malaking rason kung bakit ako nandito sa position ko ngayon. Tatanawin kong malaking utang na loob lahat ng ginawa mo sa akin bilang isang player,” wrote Ginebra pointguard LA Tenorio, who played under Badolato’s tutelage at the San Beda Red Cubs in the NCAA juniors.
“Being under your wing has been a blessing to my life. Good bye Coach Ato… my mentor, father figure and friend… Thank you for everything,” wrote former player and coach Eric Altamirano, who also played for Badolato for the Red Cubs and was one of the players who were instrumental in giving the school a string of championships.
“Maraming salamat sa lahat ng tinuro mo sakin… I learned the basic fundamentals through your program. I learned to play organized basketball through you. I became successful in my career because I have a strong basketball foundation,” wrote Gerry Esplana.
Badolato, considered as one of the best high school coaches in the country, led the Red Cubs to numerous NCAA high school championships. He mentored the Red Cubs for nearly four decades and was known to produce some of the best players in the country.
Among the players who played under his wing were Renren Ritualo, Magnum Membrere, Benjie Paras and Dindo Pumaren, to name a few.
The multi-titled mentor was hospitalized last month after he experienced difficulty in breathing. He underwent an unsuccessful angioplasty a few weeks back and was supposed to undergo another bypass surgery in March.