SAN Miguel Beer practice looked like any other on Tuesday morning, except that changes were starting to take effect the day another major shuffle for the once-proud franchise became official.
American Todd Purves, the coaching consultant tasked to take on a more active role after Gee Abanilla was promoted to team manager, was already running the drills and drawing some plays as he oversaw the team's scrimmage at the Reyes Gym in Mandaluyong.
Biboy Ravanes, the longtime assistant coach who was elevated to the head-coaching job, was around but politely declined to talk to the media. So did Purves who clearly had a lot in his hands on this day.
No longer around were former starting guard Alex Cabagnot and Jason Deutchman, who hours later would find themselves with new teams - Cabagnot with GlobalPort and Deutchman with Barako Bull - after a seven-player, four-team trade was approved by the PBA Commissioner's Office.
Still to show up were new San Miguel acquisitions Sol Mercado and Rico Maierhofer.
They Said It!
"In our case, we want our players to grow together, develop together, make mistakes together, and get better together ... Then hopefully, they'll learn to play together and win together." - Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao
Along with the franchise's decision to drop Petron and revert to its old San Miguel name, the wholesale changes were just the latest for the league's most successful team which, oddly enough, has not won a championship since the 2011 Governors Cup under Ato Agustin.
"Let's just say that our philosophies are different," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao while politely declining to comment about Petron/San Miguel's constant changes to its team, saying it's improper.
"We believe that the key to success is keeping a team together," added Guiao, who has kept his core over the last two years with changes done mostly through the rookie draft. "That's how we develop a team."
Not so with the Petron/San Miguel team.
Over the last four conferences alone, SMC's flagship franchise has had four coaching changes, transitioning from the failed Rajko Toroman-Olsen Racela partnership to the Racela solo act to Abanilla for two conferences before the latest coaching experiment with Purves and Ravanes.
Over that same span, permanence was simply lacking at San Miguel as players came and went, while those that stayed on were left to deal with the drama brought by all the changes - a chaotic situation that has come to be known among fans as 'Petron-ovela.'
Arwind Santos, the league's reigning MVP, is now the longest-staying player at San Miguel, and he has been with the ballclub for less than five years.
In contrast, the four teams that have won championships over the league's last four conferences - Rain or Shine, Talk 'N Text, San Mig Coffee, and Alaska - have maintained solid cores and done the least changes, both with their coaches and personnel.
With the revolving-door policy among coaches and players at San Miguel, league pundits can't help but ask if stability - or success - is close at hand for the talent-laden but underachieving ballclub.
"Teams do things differently," said Guiao. "In our case, we want our players to grow together, develop together, make mistakes together, and get better together.
"Then hopefully, they'll learn to play together and win together."