BARANGAY Ginebra’s alternate board governor Alfrancis Chua admitted on Monday the team’s latest coaching change was management’s response to the players’ clamor to bring back Ato Agustin and do away with the triangle offense of former head coach Jeffrey Cariaso.
“The players requested for coach Ato (Agustin). Sila nakakaalam 'nun so kung sa tingin nila (there’s a need to change head coach), eh di naman ako naglalaro eh, nasa sa kanila 'yun,” Chua told Spin.ph during the team’s first practice of the year on Monday at the Green Meadows gym in Libis, Quezon City.
Chua, the last coach to lead Ginebra to a league finals, said among the recent coaches that called the shots for Ginebra, the coaching style of Agustin is the closest to his.
“Maririnig mo sa mga players eh (Gin Kings desire to bring back Agustin). Siguro dahil lumaban kami sa championship dati. So yung sistema ko at sistema ni Ato, parang pareho, and he listens. Iyun ang maganda,” he added.
The outspoken Ginebra executive made it clear that there are no sacred cows in the league.
“Wala namang di magaling na coach. Lahat ng coach napapalitan. Lahat ng coach gustong manalo. Kaso bagay bagay yan eh," he said.
Agustin is no longer a stranger to the Gin Kings, having been the team’s coach for three conferences starting in the 2013 Governors Cup after taking over from Chua.
The former PBA MVP actually guided the team to a semifinal finish in last season’s Philippine Cup where Ginebra lost to San Mig/Purefoods Star in seven games.
The 51-year-old Agustin, a one-time PBA champion coach with Petron/San Miguel, eventually slid down to assistant coach when Ginebra decided to give Cariaso and his triangle offense a try before the start of last season's Governors Cup.
“Ato is not a rookie coach. He’s won a championship. He knows the job of a coach,” said Chua.
Despite the players' clamor, the pony-tailed Chua explained that the decision to replace Cariaso all boiled down to how the team performed under his leadership.
“Nung (December) 29, kinausap ko na si Jeffrey. Eh performance-wise, the team should perform,” stressed Chua.
Cariaso compiled a 12-11 win-loss record during his brief tenure as Ginebra coach as he failed to steer the Gin Kings past the quarterfinals in his two conferences as head coach.
Chua also defended the Ginebra management’s latest coaching move amid unrest among the team's legion of fans on line, saying the switch was prompted by a desire to find a coach that can best fit the ballclub.
“Ang daming nagpapalit. Yung kabilang grupo nga (referring to San Miguel Beer), nagpapalit din ng coaches. Yung GlobalPort nga ganun din. Parang sapatos iyan eh. Kung ano ang komportable para sa iyo, yun ang gamitin mo,” he added.
“Kaya nga kami nagpapalit (ng coach) para makuha namin yung tamang kombinasyon. Para maibigay namin kung ano ang gusto nila dahil alam ko, madami nagre-request (for a PBA championship).”
Chua also appealed to Ginebra fans for patience, saying the management and coaching staff are doing everything they can to finally end the Gin Kings’ seven-year PBA title drought.
“Ang sa akin lang, sana pagpasensyahan nila (Ginebra fans) kami. Tina-try namin lahat ng magagawa namin pero di ganun kadali, so sana ipag-paumanhin niyo na lang,” said Chua.
“Di namin kayo napapasaya for the past few conferences pero ginagawa namin lahat sa management at coaches na mapasaya naming sila sa hinihiling nila. Eh ako din, kung saan gusto nila dumating, gusto ko dun din dumating,” explained Chua.
“Team ko ito (Ginebra). Team ng mga players ito. Team ng coaches ito. Team ni boss (Ramon S. Ang) ito at team ng halos 95 percent ng mga Pilipino ang Ginebra,” he added.