THE camaraderie and chemistry built through the difficult years is starting to bear fruit for San Miguel Beer.
Team manager Gee Abanilla noted how much a franchise criticized for seasons of underachievement and its so-called 'larong mayaman' ways has collectively grown since losing to San Mig Coffee in the 2013 PBA Governors Cup finals.
“Chemistry is a very important ingredient if you want to have success,” Abanilla told Spin.ph.
The 48-year-old former SMB coach would like to believe the Beermen have matured together since the championship debacle almost two seasons ago, not to mention the series of coaching changes within the team over the last two and a half years.
“Yung maturity din ng mga players in a couple of years is also important, kasi gaya na lang ni June Mar (Fajardo), who has been blossoming into a very versatile player,” Abanilla added.
Before moving over to an executive position after last season’s Philippine Cup, Abanilla steered the team to the Governors Cup Finals during his first conference as head coach of the franchise.
Bannered by import Elijah Millsap, San Miguel (then carrying the Petron brand of name) made it all the way to the finals only to lose to San Mig and Tim Cone in the decisive Game Seven of the series.
Abanilla would later yield the coaching reins to American consultant Todd Purves and Biboy Ravanes, only for the Beermen to suffer heartbreaking losses in the playoffs.
But judging from the way they’ve been playing under new coach Leo Austria, it appears the Beermen are ready to move on and regain their once lofty position in the league.
Since being named as San Miguel alternate governor, Abanilla said he has been preoccupied with learning the ropes on his new job as an executive.
Part of it is overseeing the team’s lounge at the Acropolis gym in Libis, where Austria and the coaching staff meet regularly.
San Miguel players also have long tables and chairs in the lounge where they can relax before or after practice.
The result was better camaraderie among the coaches and players, who found themselves holed up longer at the place to have fun and at times, play cards against each other shortly after training.
“Tingin ko mayroon ding contribution 'yun (lounge) kasi ang purpose talaga nun is magkaroon ng camaraderie ang coaches and players,” shared Abanilla.
“Dati kasi, di conducive for work dahil wala namang pupuntahan ang mga players after practice, so di ka talaga masyadong gaganahan. Pero ngayon, mas maganda ang work environment.”