Life and basketball
“What is more important is not about the competition with the team from the other side of the court, but it's about competing with yourself. There's always joy in the process of becoming the best you can be and trying to become a better person than you were yesterday."
Ronel Leuterio, 54, made the inspiring statement. He is the executive program officer of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) 11.
Leuterio grew up in Pasay City but eventually moved to Bacoor during his teenage years. In 1993, Leuterio became one of the coaching staff of the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in Las Piñas before he transferred to College of St. Benilde. "Those were really horrible years in terms of wins and losses but those were the years looking back now were I learned the most," Leuterio said.
Those struggling years, however, didn't stop him from moving forward. His hard work and determination resulted to his team winning championships.
"What we want in life is the easy part but what are we willing to struggle in life is more important. All jobs naman have difficulties and disappointments but there those naman na it doesn't pay much well but you love every single moment of doing it," he said.
For him the joy in coaching is not really on the number of championships won but basically on the journey. "It might be a cliche but it's really true. Problems are constant in any team you're coaching. The joy in coaching comes from solving problems, and in coaching there's a lot of it," he added.
He moved to Davao City in 2000 and became part of the coaching staff of the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) team Davao Eagles with coach Bong Go and Vito Orcullo.
"If there's one person who I really owe a lot in coaching, it's really Coach Bong. People who really knew me knows that I'm `buang' (crazy) in basketball," Leuterio, who may probably be the biggest collector of basketball books and video tapes. He already has 500 basketabll books including one written by John Bunn in the early 1960s.
In 2005, Leuterio migrated to Chicago where he thought it would be the end of basketball for him, but it was not.
"I realized instead that it's opening more doors for me. This is where I started collecting all the books I wanted, the instructional tapes of NBA and NCAA coaches I idolize. But where I really learned a lot in the US coaching was when then Northwestern coach, Bill Carmody gave me all access to his practices," he sahred, recalling that it was then he learned a lot about the Princeton offense and the match-up zone defense which he believes should be the stapled in Philippine basketball.
Leuterio visited Davao City in 2013 where it was then Glenn Escandor, the chief executive officer of Escandor Group of Companies and the current SBP regional director, asked him to train his son Francis Gabriel Escandor who was then an Ateneo de Davao University basketball varsity player.
Leuterio took the opportunity as he has been thinking of retiring in Davao City anyway. On his first day of training the young Escandor, they went straight to the tomb of the latter's late grandfather. "I told him na everything you have in life, you owe it to him," Leuterio, pertaining to the late colonel Emilio Escandor.
"What a better way to show your gratitude is by creating a name in basketball that would somehow immortalize his name (Emilio Escandor)," Leuterio said.
He then rose to prominence in Davao City after seeing a huge improvement from Francis.
Leuterio, as executive program officer of SBP, with the help of Escandor, aims to make a difference in whatever way he can to help in improving not only on how the game is being played but also on the plight of the players.