MANILA, Philippines - As team manager of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Alfrancis Chua is tasked raising the Philippine Basketball Association’s most popular team to the championship level. Speaking at the PBA’s preseason press conference on Tuesday, October 7 at EDSA Shangri-La, Chua says he believes the team has the talent; the players just need to play their parts.
“It depends on them. I told them, ‘we’ve got the talent, it’s there.’ It depends on whether they’re gonna accept their roles,” said Chua.
The team, which hasn’t won a title since the import-laden 2008 Fiesta Conference, is coming off a turbulent 2013-14 season that saw them lose in the semifinals in seven games to eventual Grand Slam winners San Mig Coffee before two early quarterfinal exits in the Commissioner’s and Governors’ Cup conferences.
The team also saw a switch in coaches, with former San Mig assistant Jeffrey Cariaso bringing his triangle offense to replace the pick-and-roll approach of Ato Agustin.
“There’s an adjustment period, he’s teaching triangle offense because way back since I was a coach we’re a run and gun team,” said Chua. “We need more time like what happened to Tim Cone when he entered San Mig Coffee. It’s not easy to teach the triangle offense, it takes time. We’re telling the fans and the players to be more patient.”
Ginebra lost its final preseason tuneup, 91-79, to the Meralco Bolts in Panabo, Davao this past Sunday without reigning Rookie of the Year Greg Slaughter, who sat out with a minor injury, as well as Gilas Pilipinas players LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar.
Slaughter, Ginebra’s 7-foot center, says the team is still trying to find its rhythm with the new offense.
“I think we’re still adjusting with being comfortable in our positions and making the right reads. Right now I don’t think we’re able to make the right reads [of defenses] off of our positioning,” said Slaughter, who averaged 14.5 ppg and 10 rpg in his rookie year.
Chua says that he has stressed to Slaughter the need to build off what he accomplished last season.
“I told him, ‘If you’re gonna stop now that you’ve achieved something, you’re dead. Now it’s about time to step one step forward to aim what you want,'" said Chua.
Slaughter says that, despite winning an award last season, he doesn’t take “any satisfaction” from the past season and won’t settle for less than a successful season for the team.
“It’s nice that I got an individual award but that didn’t satisfy me at all. I’ve been keeping that hunger. I’ve been working and making improvements. There's nothing really to be satisfied about from last season,” said Slaughter.
Tenorio and Japeth
Chua believes that Tenorio’s experience as the starting point guard for Gilas in the FIBA World Cup and Asian Games last month will help boost his performance playing against domestic competition.
“He played a lot of NBA players; the confidence playing against the Filipino players will go up. I hope he can grab it for his teammates,” Chua said. He holds the same hopes for Aguilar, whom he believes is caught between philosophies.
“He needs a little bit of adjustment. I think by training in the States, going to Europe [he has improved]. I told him it’s not just about physical, it’s about mental, too. It’s about time for him to mature. If he will learn how to know the game more, he’ll be a good basketball player.”
Ginebra will open the 40th PBA season on October 19th against Talk 'N Text at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. Expansion teams Kia Sorentos and Blackwater Elite will also see action that day in the 55,000 capacity arena.
For its 2014-2015 roster, Ginebra will field Tenorio, Slaughter, Aguilar, James Forrester, Billy Mamaril, Joshua Urbiztondo, Jay-Jay Helterbrand, Jay-R Reyes, Dylan Ababou, Chris Ellis, Mac Baracael, Mark Caguioa and Rodney Brondial, with Emman Monfort their 15th man on the reserve list.
Assistant coaches Agustin, Olsen Racela and Jorge Gallent will be joined on the bench by De La Salle University Green Archers head coach Juno Sauler and Archers assistant Allan Caidic. - Rappler.com