Coach Rey Dangcal of Southern Philippines College in Cagayan De Oro isn't one to find any excuses that'll limit his capabilities. Instead, he lives by simple truths that aim to inspire and empower.
"From the start, in practice, I only say one thing to the kids, 'If I don't arrive late (for practice) if I don't have an excuse to get what I want, why can't you? If I can do it, why can't you?" he said in Filipino.
Dangcal has been the mentor for the SPC Sharks for the last five years. His words of motivation carry more weight and meaning than most coaches as a paraplegic. An unfortunate accident back in 2008, forcing him to use an electric wheelchair, hasn't stopped him from pursuing his passion for mentoring young kids.
"If I don't arrive late during practices, why would you be late? What's the reason? There's no reason right?" Dangcal recalled telling his players. "I motivate them by just staying positive," he added.
Despite being bound to a wheelchair, he constantly pushes himself and his players to reach the best of their abilities. Through his leadership, he led SPC to its first-ever appearance in the NBTC National Finals this year. The humble team from Cagayan De Oro is only one of four teams from Mindanao that booked a ticket to the annual showcase for the best high school teams in the country.
On the sidelines, you can see him passionately give instructions to his team, going up and down his team's bench just as any other coach would do in a regular game -- including calling out a player's mistake if needed.
SPC made its debut on the national stage last Tuesday against AusPinoy Australia. It was a stunning first game for Dangcal and his squad, beating the Australian team, 69-67, thanks to a buzzer beater from Vance Caterbas that catapulted them into the Supreme 16.
"We came here prepared and the bottom line is that we are blessed," said Dangcal. "Right from the start, way back from our Cagayan journey, I already noticed the blessing of our Lord. But of course, we came here prepared."
"That first game was sort of our meter if we really belong here in this league," he added.
There was even one point during that game that Dangcal, wheelchair and all, entered the playing court when one of his players went down with a mild injury.
SPC eventually bowed out of the competition with a humbling loss to NCAA powerhouse San Beda Red Cubs. But despite the defeat in the Supreme 16, the entire experience of making it to the National Finals -- with one win to boast -- was already an accomplishment in itself.
"Of course this is our biggest achievement," the coach said. "We'd like to thank our management because this was the first time that they showed all-out support. They gave everything to the kids."
Even though they're already out of the tournament, the future remains bright for the Southern Philippines College basketball team. From a coach that doesn't look for excuses, who constantly motivates his players, these young kids from Cagayan De Oro are definitely in good hands.