THE shock exit of Boycie Zamar as head coach of University of the East had something to do with the long-standing corporate rivalry between San Miguel Corporation and Asia Brewery, sources with knowledge of the situation told Spin.ph on Friday.
A day after Spin.ph broke the story about Zamar's firing, sources said UE management saw a ‘conflict of interest’ in the former Warriors coach holding a concurrent position as an assistant coach of San Miguel Beer, one of the three PBA ballclubs controlled by SMC.
Prior to his move to the Beermen camp, Zamar was also an assistant coach of another SMC-owned PBA franchise, Barangay Ginebra, during the last Philippine Cup.
UE is owned by Lucio Tan, one of the richest men in the country who also owns Asia Brewery Corporation, a rival company of the San Miguel group. Asia Brewery, incidentally, also bankrolls the Red Warriors through the sponsorship of Cobra Energy Drink.
“’Yun ang iniisip ng management, na you can’t serve two masters at the same time,” said the source.
The move came as a shock for the Recto-based school as Zamar was about to enter only his second full season at the helm with UE after replacing former teammate Jerry Codinera midway through the 2012 UAAP season.
A former UE player, Zamar, who also served as the Red Warriors' coach in the early 2000s, nearly led UE to the Final Four with a 7-7 win-loss record - just one victory short of tying University of Santo Tomas for the fourth seeding in Season 76.
Ironically, separate sources told Spin.ph during the PBA offseason that Zamar was once eyed by SMC big boss Ramon S. Ang to coach Ginebra - an offer he reportedly declined due to his commitment with UE.
Aside from Zamar, all his former coaches were also given the boot, sources said, including assistant coaches Bai Cristobal, Jenkins Messina, and Bong Ramos, who is also a head coach of Barako Bull in the PBA.
A team official who also asked not to be named said the school feared Zamar would not be able to give his "full commitment" to the Red Warriors this season at a time when the school is hoping for a strong showing being the season host.
“They are worried that he will be busy and not giving sufficient time to the team,” said the team official.
But when asked if Zamar's ties with San Miguel became a factor in the decision, the team official said: “Let us put it this way. It didn’t help.”
UE is expected to release an official statement regarding the coaching situation within the day.