HOLLYWOOD - Once a Ginebra King, always a Ginebra King.
Seeing the proud franchise very close to his heart struggle in the PBA Commissioner's Cup despite assembling a formidable roster, one-time Ginebra coach Rino Salazar has issued a call for the original King to come on board again.
Salazar disclosed that had he been able to talk personally to Robert Jaworski Sr., considered the heart and soul of Ginebra's original never-say-die team, during the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley II over the weekend, he would have tried his best to convince the 'Big J' to handle the team again.
"Sasabihin ko sa kanya na siya na lang uli ang mag coach ng team," Salazar told Spin.ph at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during fight week of the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch.
Both Jaworski and Salazar were in Las Vegas to watch the Pacquiao fight along with another former Ginebra mainstay, Peter Aguilar, father of current Gin Kings star Japeth.
The last coach to handle the team in the pre-Mark Caguioa era, Salazar said he's still in touch with the happenings around the PBA, more so with the league's most popular ballclub which is currently struggling in the mid-season tournament notwithstanding the talented roster it assembled this season.
Although he's mum about the chaotic coaching situation in the team, Salazar believes Jaworski remains the perfect person to handle the team.
"Sonny's record speaks for itself," said Salazar, Jaworski's longtime deputy at Ginebra who is now based in Alaska.
Salazar also briefly coached Ginebra after Jaworski's departure, leading the eighth-seeded Gin Kings to a famous upset of top-ranked Talk 'N Text in the 1999 All-Filipino semifinals behind Bal David's last-gasp game-winner.
He also won a championship as head coach of Shell in the 1992 First Conference and together with Norman Black served as Jaworski's assistants in the first Philippine team made up of professional players to compete in the Asian Games.
That team won the silver medal in the 1990 Asiad in Beijing, losing to China in the finals.
Jaworski has earlier told Spin.ph that he is open to a return to coaching but made it clear that he wants full control of whichever team he handles.
So serious is Salazar about his dream of seeing Jaworski reunited with his former team that he had talked to the Big J's bosom buddy, Francis Arnaiz, to prod his friend to consider a return to coaching.
"Ilang beses kong kausap si Francis and I told him to convince Sonny if ever about coaching Ginebra again," said Salazar of their former teammate at Toyota who is also now based in the US.
His short stay in Vegas kept Salazar from getting in touch with Jaworski.