AS Barangay Ginebra lost its first four games in the Commissioner's Cup, Alfrancis Chua said he felt like a newbie all over again, trying to learn the ropes of coaching.
But the ponytailed mentor said that only made the feeling a lot sweeter when he finally nailed his first win on his fifth try with the league's most popular ballclub on Wednesday night.
“I’m like a rookie coach actually after more than four-and-a-half years of not coaching,” beamed Chua, who replaced Siot Tanquingcen as the Gin Kings’ coach at the start of the year.
“I can’t even sleep, thinking of what’s happening to the team," he added. "But after 14 years of coaching professionally, I’ve learned not to give up and not to doubt my players but to keep motivating them.”
Ginebra's 93-72 win over Barako Bull on Wednesday at the Big Dome was Chua’s first since 2007, his final year with a Sta. Lucia Realty team he handled for four seasons before being replaced by Boyet Fernandez.
He joined Barangay Ginebra as a team consultant on January 2012, before eventually succeeding Tanquingcen.
Chua said he was so eager to end Ginebra's win drought that he decided not to pull import Vernon Macklin out of the game, even when his squad was already miles ahead, 84-56, going into the final minutes.
“The feeling is different. Kanina 20-plus na (ang lamang), para akong rookie coach, ayaw ko pang ilabas yung import,” Chua said smiling. "But I was doing that because ang Barako Bull, 'yung last two wins nila eh puro comeback so nanigurado lang ako."
Chua, who began his PBA coaching career with Tanduay Rhum, said it was so satisfying to see the thousands of Barangay Ginebra fans walking out of the Big Dome with smiles on their faces after the victory.
“This (win) is for the fans na na-disappoint namin. It’s also for my family,” he added.
Chua gave everyone in the team a congratulatory handshake inside the dugout shortly after the victory, but wasted no time reminding them that they still have long way to go in the conference.
“I trust my players. I know they’re gonna play well. Again, isa kami sa pinakamaliit na teams. Pang eighth or ninth lang siguro kami sa liga but we’re gonna fight,” vowed Chua.
Barangay Ginebra shoots for its second win in the import-laced conference when it faces streaking Rain or Shine in Sunday’s main game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.