FORMER San Miguel Beer star Nelson Asaytono has joined the team's fans in piling the pressure on active consultant John Todd Purves after another season of failed expectations for one of the most decorated franchises in PBA history.
Asaytono, 47, pinned the blame squarely on de facto coach Purves for the Beermen's disappointing season, which saw the once-proud team tumble out at the quarterfinal stage twice and in the semifinals once as its title drought extended to three years.
“Hindi na ako nag-eenjoy manood sa kanila ngayon, hindi kagaya nung dati,” said Asaytono, breaking his silence on the issue. “Hindi ako happy sa kanya, una may mga local na nawawalan ng pwesto, tapos pangalawa hindi naman maganda performance niya.”
Listen to podcast of full interview with Asaytono HERE
San Miguel's constant failures, Asaytono said, are inexcusable considering the talent at the disposal of Purves and Biboy Ravanes, who is the Beermen's coach on paper.
“'Pag ang team na 'yan natatalo, hindi mo pwedeng sabihing player (ang problema) dyan. Malakas ang team eh. Eh natatalo kayo, papano? Nasaan ang diperensya?” he said.
“Bakit ganun (ang lakas ng lineup) pero bakit ganun ang nangyayari?” asked the now 47-year-old former University of Manila stalwart, the third pick overall in the fabled 1989 draft class.
'The Bull' also couldn't help but compare Purves' performance to that of another Amrican coach in Ron Jacobs, who turned less-talented San Miguel teams into constant title contenders during the nineties.
“Coach Ron is Coach Ron. Hindi mo pwedeng i-compare siya 'run (Purves). Si Coach Ron, kahit walang players alam niya ginagawa niya, kahit mahina yung team, naipapasok niya kami sa finals,” he said.
“Ito (San Miguel under Purves) ang lakas ng team, bakit nasa ibaba?” Asaytono added. “Parang hindi kasi siya sinusunod ng players eh. Dapat kumuha ang San Miguel ng coach na susundin ng player.”
Asaytono's sentiment is apparently shared by fans who responded to Spin.ph's poll on what ails the Beermen, who continue to underachieve despite constant changes to personnel and the coaching staff.
Of 20 respondents, only one felt Purves is the coach who can lead San Miguel to a championship.
“Hindi siya ang makakapagdala sa team naming sa promise land,” said Paul Samson, a San Miguel fan since 1991 and moderator of an SMB fan page.
“Masyadong basic yung kanyang tinuturo. Ang rotation niya, masyadong babad ang starters yung iba hindi nagagamit, kaya pagdating ng crunchtime, kinakapos yung stars gaya nina June Mar (Fajardo) at yung import.”
Samson believes that with the star-studded lineup of San Miguel, a semifinal appearance should be a conservative target every conference.
“Hindi kami dapat outside of the Final Four. Dapat perennial title contender kami eh. Or kahit semis man lamang lumaban,” said Samson.
“Kung ikumpara mo yung ginastos ng management sa mga players, salary-wise alam mo na mabigat na 'yung San Miguel. Tapos 'yun lang napo-produce nila? Quarterfinal exit?” he added.
Most fans are also criticizing Purves and his staff's failure to bring the best out of stars like Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Solomon Mercado, Chris Ross, Doug Kramer, Rico Maierhofer, Ronald Tubid and youngstar Justin Chua.
“Pamalit na 'yung head coach ng San Miguel Beer, sa players nila kumpleto naman na eh. Malakas sila kumpara sa ibang team, malakas ang local, malakas ang import. Nasa coach ang diperensya,’ said Boogie Ambat, a San Mig fan who treats the Beermen as his second favorite team.
“Kailangan nang palitan yung coach ng local na lang, kasi hindi na pumapasok yung team sa finals,” said another fan.
“Palitan na, mahina dumiskarte sa rotation ng mga tao. Hindi maganda,” added another supporter.
Watch a video of San Miguel Beer fans' comments:
Meanwhile, a source from the San Miguel camp bared that before the Governors Cup started, Purves was mandated by management to improve on the team's performance after a sorry quarterfinal upset at the hands of Air21 in the Commissioner’s cup.
It is still unclear what repercussions await the staff after the quarterfinal exit in the season-ending conference.