New Star coach Jason Webb faces challenges, opportunity

MANILA, Philippines – The Star Hotshots franchise officially welcomed their new head coach, Jason Webb, during a press conference on Thursday, July 23, at the San Miguel Corporation headquarters where Tim Cone was simultaneously introduced as the new head coach of Barangay Ginebra.

Webb, a former PBA player and TV analyst for the league, now takes over one of the more popular franchises in PBA, which is also constantly included in the discussion of championship contenders.

“For me, change means new beginnings, and the opening up of new possibilities,” Purefoods president Butch Alejo said during the press conference.

“Today, I have full confidence that as we start a new chapter in the history of the Purefoods franchise, the best man to lead us is none other than Coach Jason Webb.” 

Webb was hired just at the end of the 2013-2014 PBA season as an assistant coach to Cone, which made some wonder why he was given the coaching vacancy despite other assistants who have worked under the 57-year-old mentor longer. 

But according to Alejo, the former DLSU Green Archer has the traits required for his new profession. 

“Coach Jason has been an important part of the team since he joined us and I am sure that his experience as a player, his knowledge, his leadership, and his passion for the sport will inject fresh energy to our team,” Alejo said. 

“We will come out next year with a situation at hand where we will perform to the best of our abilities,” Webb said about what to expect from the Hotshots next season.

When asked if he will continue using the Triangle Offense that Cone implemented to help lead the franchise to 4 championships in his 4 years with the team, Webb said he plans to instill his own personality to the squad - but also utilize some of the learnings of the system the team has learned over the past few years.

“I actually asked Coach Tim about that. The one thing that he told me was you have to be true to yourself. So, his personality is to the pace of his system. The Triangle. The defense. That’s to the pace of his personality,” Webb said.

“When I come in, whatever I’m going to do is going to be true to me. For those who remembered my short playing minutes when I was still playing, I’m very, very, very aggressive. High-intensity. So it’s going to be something like that.” 

He continued:

“More than likely we’re not going to run the Triangle, but the principles of the Triangle, we will take some of them into our offense, because you have to be able to adapt.” 

Webb isn’t oblivious about the big shoes he has to fill by taking over for Cone, but opts not to see it that way.  

“One thing that you have to remember I think is when Coach Tim made this move, there was a vacancy, and I think this is going to be one way for me to lessen the pressure. 

"But maybe I’m actually getting into a vacancy, rather than replacing Coach Tim,” he said. 

However, he is still aware of the pressure that’s going to come with his new job title - not only from taking over for one of the most celebrated coaches in league history, but also to bringing back glory to a Star team that didn’t advance to the finals in any conference last PBA season after winning a Grand Slam in the 2013-2014 season.

“I think the landscape is going to be different. We weren’t able to defend those crowns last year, but it doesn’t mean to say that Coach Tim didn’t do the best possible job at that situation, coming off a Grand Slam,” said Webb, whose father, Freddie, was also a PBA coach for Shell in the 1980s. 

“We’re going to be a year removed from the Grand Slam. We’re going to be coming into this year with a new coaching staff, so this is going to be a different landscape.

"And the only thing I can assure is I’m going to try to be the best possible coach for the current scenario.” –