Sean Chambers makes pitch for UST head coaching job

MANILA, Philippines, September 15 ------ The search for the new head coach of University of Santo Tomas (UST) got more interesting as legendary PBA import Sean Chambers has officially applied for the position. The head coaching post at UST has been vacant since the resignation of Aldin Ayo earlier this month, a consequence of the "Sorsogon bubble" controversy wherein the Growling Tigers were found to have trained in his hometown since June. Several local coaches have applied for the job, and Chambers added his name to the list. In an interview on the "Athlete's Tribune" on Monday night, the 55-year-old former Alaska import said this is the right time for him to apply for a position in the Philippines.

"When I started looking at positions in the past in the Philippines, this is the first one that actually felt naturally right. It felt like this is an opportunity that I felt, it could have God's blessing," said Chambers, who was Alaska's "resident import" in the 1990s. Chambers revealed that he considered applying for the UST post in 2017, when the position was vacated by Boy Sablan. There was also an opportunity for him to be a consultant in the PBA in 2012. At the time, however, his children were still too young, and he felt it was not the right time for him to return to the place he considers his second home.

Now, his children are young adults, with his daughter heading to college and his son a high school sophomore. "This gives me an opportunity to really entertain a position in the Philippines, and that was a little bit challenging before, eight or nine years ago," said Chambers. Chambers, now the Dean of Students at Fern Bacon Middle School, understands he will have a tough task should he get the UST job. The program is reeling, with several players having departed in the wake of controversy. Of the team that made it to the Finals in UAAP Season 82, only two rotation players remain -- reigning MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo and Sherwin Concepcion. The day that Chambers sent his application, reigning Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy bid goodbye to the school, with reports that he is now headed to De La Salle University.

But Chambers believes that "Tiger Nation" can rise again. "You gotta come back to what they used to be about. Get a bunch of young men who are supportive of the university, young men that want to play for the university and represent the university and everything it embodies," he said. "We'll talk to the alumni and the support staff, get the alumni to come back and be supportive of the program like they used to be back in the '90s when I was there with Coach Aric (del Rosario)," he added. "And then, once you get the right guys in there, you're gonna be able to empower them, starting with discipline. We are an institution of higher learning, so education has to be the forefront and developing young men into great men."

Del Rosario, who passed away last March, played a huge role in Chambers' decision to apply for the UST position as he used to watch the Growling Tigers' games upon the invitation of the revered coach. He saw first hand the "amazing support" that the team received in the 1990s, when they were the premier basketball program in the UAAP, and he believes he can restore that glory to España. "They may or may not entertain my (application)," said Chambers. "But I do feel in my heart, this is the right one, out of other situations that came out before." Aside from Chambers, others who have applied for the UST position include: Aris Dimaunahan, Siot Tanquingcen, Chris Gavina, and Gilbert Lao.