STAR Hotshots fans are understandably outraged by the decision to move coach Tim Cone to Barangay Ginebra, but team management has vowed to make amends.
For starters San Miguel Purefoods Inc. president and team governor Butch Alejo has assured that the core of the team especially stars James Yap, Peter June Simon, Mark Barroca, Ian Sangalang and Joe Devance will be staying put.
"I assure that none of our key players will be moving soon, definitely James will be staying with us," said Alejo, hoping that this assurance will be enough to pacify the fans.
"I feel that all of the players are staying in the team. A lot have expiring contracts but we're working on them," he said.
Asked if the fans of Purefoods were shortchanged with the so-called 'organizational decision' to transfer Cone to Star's sister team under the San Miguel Corp. umbrella, Alejo shook his head.
"Not really, I think you still have the key players, the James Yap and the PJ, and the Mark Barroca, Marc Pingris, everybody is still intact," he said.
Alejo said he understands the anxiety of fans since a rookie coach in Jason Webb will not be taking over Cone's place in one of the most successful teams in the league, especially over the last two seasons.
Alejo was quick to ease the fears.
"I think the fear is because of the unknown, Jason (Webb) being new so you don't really knew what to expect - but he's got the support of the management," he assured.
"We're looking at ways to improve his (Webb) skills in coaching, we'll definitely address that. I think it's just a matter of time (for Star to again be among the contenders)," Alejo said.
The amiable corporate executive admitted the company is aware of the upheaval among the team's fans.
"Well, of course we're really sad with some of the reactions of the fans of Purefoods, that's quite a number of them. I just hope it will change with what coach Jason will do," he said.
"I hope it will eventually convince the fans that this is the right move for Purefoods. I think it's just a matter of time. Any bad news that come our way takes a little time for us to absorb and to realize the benefits derived from it," he said.
"I feel confident that coach Jason will do a good job although it is really difficult for coach Tim Cone to be replaced," added the longtime Purefoods official.
So what are the plans for the team, he was asked.
"We're trying to work on something that will appease them. We will do some marketing moves, nothing very specific at this stage because we're still planning what we can do, but rest assured that we are addressing those concerns," he said.
Webb, for his part, vowed to give the fans a fighting team.
"I can really assure you that me and the coaching staff as well as the players, we will make sure na pag nanood kayo ng game, you will feel that 'yung mga players na to binigay nila lahat, yung coaching staff na ito binigay nila lahat," Webb said.
"It's a team that you're gonna be proud of. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to see victories every game, hindi naman pwede 'yun eh. But mararamdaman ninyo na yung team ninyo nagta-trabaho and they are trying their best," he added.
Webb, a former PBA player and TV analyst, said he understands that it will take a while before fans accept the change.
"It will take awhile, parang mag-asawa yan na bagong hiwalay. After a while, it may take a day, it may take a month and you will learn to move on. Wag niyo lang kaming iwan, kailangan nating mas magsama-sama ngayon," he said.
"We need you now. Mas lalo tayo magsama-sama sa Star family. if this is the time na maghihiwalay tayo at magtuturuan tayo, there's very less chance that we'll gonna have success.
"We need all the positive energy that we can muster."