ALPHA FEATURE: Christian "Coach Papas" Tan

Active Alpha Basketball Coach Feature gradeschool highschool lifestyle SBCA

Survivor, Businessman and Coach

To dedicate oneself to a sport, you have to go beyond your physical, mental and emotional barriers. The alphas of basketball - from Lebron James to Kobe Bryant - all went beyond the call of duty to cement themselves as undeniable legends of the sport.

But alphas don’t always come in the shape of NBA superstars. Extraordinary ball players exist in everyday people. They could be your high school varsity captain, your excellent coworker, your gym buddy. Their skills don’t just lie in three-pointers and passes, but in various aspects of life. 

Basketball coach Christian Tan, also known as Coach Papas,  is above his game not just on the court, but also as a father and a businessman. A true fighter, Chris has also survived the trials of cancer at a young age; then now with his ongoing battle against kidney failure. Still, he is able to play ball, teach kids how to play ball, and run a business. You would think that his illness would stop him from making shots on the court, but he still continues to strive in life, looking fit and healthy. He is, in many ways, an alpha.

Point 3 had a chat with Coach Papas at his home court, San Beda College Alabang, where he coaches students in grade school and high school. He talked about his coaching philosophy and style, and about how basketball helped him cope with his health issues. 

All About Coach Papas

“As a coach, my main thing is hard work & discipline, so I make sure that my players instill that hardwork and discipline,” he told us about his coaching style. “We usually have team rules. So whenever we set rules, we make sure that we follow our rules. And then aside from that, we set goals to make sure that we do our best to achieve them. 

Coach Papas also believes that the ideal player isn’t one who is innately talented, but one who is hardworking. “Basta ‘yung hardworking, especially at a young age. At a young age, you wouldn’t know if they’re really good. Kung baga, ibig-sabihin, if they’re in high school, you have an idea if they’re gonna get better. Pero kung bata pa, you cannot judge them right away. You have to give them time to develop. So sakin basta hardworking ka, you go to practice every time, Tuesday and Thursday schedule that’s great for me. Basta yung attitude ng player.”

He also believes that confidence plays a major role in a player’s performance. “Majority of players lack confidence,” Coach explained. “As a coach, that’s what I try to instill in players. Just be confident in yourself. Just believe in yourself and eventually you’ll develop and you’ll get better.”

“Believe in yourself,” he continued. “If you want to achieve something, you have to believe in yourself. And then when you set your mind to it and you believe it, you work hard and put in the hours, the time, [and] you put in the effort, eventually you’ll achieve what you want.”

Having played basketball continuously since he was ten years old, Chris also applies what he learned in that time to coach. “You reap what you sow. So kung ano yung trinabaho mo, yun din yung makukuha mo,” he explained one of the most important lessons he learned as a player. “The more time you put in, the more time you love basketball, the more basketball will love you back.”

That’s why he admires Lebron James as an athlete and considers him to be his favorite. “I like how he takes care of his body,” he told us. “Dun naman nakikita yung passion niya for the game, yung time he put in taking care of his body, taking care of how he developed his skills as a player.”

Still, not everything in basketball is smooth sailing, even for an alpha. Even the greatest players and coaches, makes mistakes. However, Coach Papas doesn’t see this as a hindrance, but more of an opportunity to grow. “For me kasi everything’s a learning experience naman eh.

He also says that despite past mistakes, he wouldn’t want to go back and change anything. “All of our success[es], all of our learnings, ano ‘yan eh, it add[s] up to where we are. So, for us, losing is not really losing. It’s learning.”

An Ultimate Survivor

He also talked about his current status as a survivor of illnesses who continues to pursue his passions. When asked about what gives him the motivation to keep playing and coaching, he said it was simply his love for the sport. “I’ve been sick kasi most of my life. I’m 35 years old and maybe more than half of my life I’ve been sick. But it never stopped me from playing sports. I love sports eh.”

Despite his health challenges, he saw sports as an outlet. “Whenever I play sports I forget about my problems, about the challenges I face. So ayun, kaya I love sports. It puts me in another place. It helps me forget all my problems sa health concerns.”

He also credits having an active lifestyle as a major factor in alleviating his health concerns. “I think because of playing sports for the longest time, it helped my body become stronger to fight those sickness[es]. Kasi if you see other cases na may ganun, talagang nagdedetereriorate body nila.”

His love for what he does is also his secret in managing time for both his business and coaching. “I love my business,obviously whenever I sell something that I made syempre fulfillment sakin ‘yun. Produkto mo yun eh tapos nagustuhan ng ibang tao. At the same time, sa coaching naman when I see kids develop, when I see them thank you for allowing them to be better players, fulfillment sakin ‘yun eh. Hindi ka napapagod. At palagi akong masaya.”


What makes an Alpha?

Finally, he shared with us what an alpha is for him. “For me an alpha is someone who takes charge. Some who leads by example. Someone who doesn’t allow himself to be hindered by challenges in life.”

With that definition, we think Coach Chris is a certified alpha.


Follow Coach Papas’ journey against kidney failure and his search for a donor. If you want to extend your support towards Coach Papas, please visit his Facebook page: