NEWS that Noli Eala has been eased out of his role as San Miguel Corp.'s consultant for basketball operations and assigned to a new role in the company has raised hope among Barangay Ginebra fans that Alfrancis Chua will reconsider his resignation and return to the team.
Not so fast.
A source close to the pony-tailed coach said Chua will not be rejoining the team - or at least not immediately. The coach intends to sit out the season-ending PBA Governors Cup before deciding on a return.
“Magpapahinga na lang muna siguro si coach," said the source. "Pero who knows, kung alukin siya ng consultancy (role) muna baka kunin niya.”
There are actually no hurdles for Chua to return to the fold.
When the coach met with SMC big boss Ramon Ang and other top officials on Tuesday, he was prevailed upon to temper his resignation and file a leave of absence instead, leaving the door open for his return (For full story, see Source: Chua stands firm on resignation in meeting with SMC big boss Ang)
However, Eala's exit may yet hasten Chua's return. Sources said the company now expects Chua to end his leave of absence and return to Ginebra in time for the start of next season in November.
That should explain why Ginebra is in no rush to appoint a replacement, who, as things stand now, will most likely take over the team in an interim capacity before Chua's return.
Under such a set-up, Ginebra will most likely settle for a coach from San Miguel Corp.'s current pool of coaches. (For Ginebra's options, see Tanquingcen, Agustin high on Ginebra list of possible replacements for Chua)
Ginebra officials have also assured that despite the absence of a head coach, Ginebra's buildup for the Governors Cup is proceeding smoothly.
“Naka-program naman na yan. First two weeks namin conditioning. Kaya na ng mga assistant coaches na patakbuhin yun,” said the team insider.
“Yung third week naman focus lang yun sa defense at offense plays, kaya hindi pa rin kakailanganin ang head coach nun,” he said.
“Pero siyempre, as much as possible naghahanap na kami."