“Nagkamali sila ng pinili.”

Ato Agustin’s speech shortly after he led the Petron Blaze Boosters to the 2011 PBA Governors’ Cup title Sunday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum was explosive.

“Nung binigyan kami ng pagkakataon para maka-tsamba,” he added. “Naka-tsamba kami ng apat na beses.”

His post-championship words reflected the drama and animosity of a championship series that had become personal.

After game 3, Agustin challenged his counterpart, Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes, into a fistfight, after the Tropang Texters gave the Boosters a sound 132-105 beating and a 2-1 series lead.

Despite the backlash against him, Agustin’s actions seemed to energize the Boosters, which ended up winning three of the next four games.

But even after winning the series, the Petron Blaze coach couldn’t help but say a few more choice words against Reyes.

“Gusto ko lang linawin na hindi siya ang kumuha sa akin, nagkasama lang kami sa team, pero hindi siya ang kumuha sa akin na gaya ng sinasabi niya,” said Agustin, alluding to Reyes’ statement in the Philippine Cup Finals that the former San Miguel great’s first contract was handed by the Talk ‘N Text coach. “Si [former Lyceum coach] Coach Boy Afable at si Coach Turo [Valenzona] ang kumuha sa akin kaya wala akong utang na loob sa kanya.”

Slamming the door on Talk ‘N Text

Agustin said he was extra-happy about preventing Talk ‘N Text from winning the Grand Slam.

“Na-challenge ako. Gusto naming defend namin yung Grand Slam namin,” he said during the post-game interview. “Yung mga teammates ko dati sa San Miguel, sinasabi nga sa akin na kailangan huwag namin silang payagang maka-Grand Slam. Kailangan kami mag-defend ng Grand Slam namin.”

Agustin was a rookie for the star-studded San Miguel Beer team that won the PBA’s triple crown in 1989, serving as a backup for established stars Samboy Lim and Elmer Reyes.

Apart from spoiling the Talk ‘N Text celebration, Agustin and his crew were also seeking revenge against the Tropang Texters, which defeated them in the Philippine Cup finals earlier this year. They were also bouncing back from a terrible performance in the Commissioner’s Cup, when the team finished last after pulling off a big trade that sent mainstays Danny Seigle, Dondon Hontiveros, Dorian Peña, and Paul Artadi to Air 21.

“Napakagandang revenge ito sa amin,” he said. “Mahirap kalaban yung swerte, pero binago namin yung sistema namin this conference. Ang ganda nang nangyari dahil from kulelat, naging champion kami.”

With his first championship, Agustin became just the second former PBA Most Valuable Player after Robert Jaworski to win a title as a head coach in the league.

Outfoxing Reyes

Agustin won praise in the series for bringing a street-smart coaching style against Reyes, an acclaimed scientific coach well-versed in X’s and O’s.

While Reyes concentrated on his elaborate playbook, Agustin kept it simple.

The Petron Blaze coach was more concerned with tapping the energy of his players and maximizing the potential of his short-handed squad. He tried to focus on aspects of the game where they had advantages, even as he tried to hide the team’s deficiencies.

He instructed his players to attack the defense of the hobbled Talk ‘N Text guards, while getting the most out of players such as Anthony Grundy, finals MVP Arwind Santos, and Danny Ildefonso.

Two nights after getting humbled in game 6, the Boosters came out with excellent energy. And despite never having coached a game of that magnitude in his career, Agustin was able to squeeze every ounce of talent from his banged-up team to pull off one of the greatest upsets in PBA finals history.

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