TIM Cone used to call assistant coach Jeffrey Cariaso as the “glue” that keeps San Mig Super Coffee together.
So who can replace that important role when the Mixers gun for a rare grand slam?
After the Mixers’ Commissioner’s Cup title conquest over Talk ‘N Text on Thursday, Cariaso will officially relinquish his assistant coaching duties to go full-time at Barangay Ginebra as its new head coach.
For Cariaso, winning his fourth PBA championship with San Mig was the perfect sendoff as he moves over to face the bigger challenge of turning the underachieving Gin Kings into champions.
“I’m gonna have my twists here and there, my own little version on my side, though honestly, it’s not really the triangle (system he will bring to Ginebra that will work), but it’s the attitude, the willingness to work hard,” Cariaso said, his San Mig championship shirt soaked with beer and sweat during the post-game celebration inside the team’s dugout at Philsports Arena.
The 41-year-old Cariaso calls his two-and-a-half seasons with San Mig as quite a “journey," which has brought not just titles, but a wealth of coaching lessons from the all-time winningest coach in Cone.
“It’s exactly that, the journey. You have to enjoy the journey. Of course, at the beginning, it is always tough, but once you push through with that, you get better,” he said as he tries to infuse the winning attitude he got from Cone and the Mixers to the Gin Kings, beginning in the season-ending Governors Cup, which immediately kicks off this Sunday.
The soft-spoken Ginebra rookie coach admits that coaching a star-studded Gin Kings squad is a huge challenge, but he promised that he will have a group of players, who are ready to replicate how the Mixers play.
“You’re gonna have a group out there who will work hard and gonna die for each other, that’s all. And once we’re on the same page, good things will happen,” said Cariaso, who will make his coaching debut next Tuesday when Ginebra faces GlobalPort.