MANILA, Philippines – Handed the task of leading the PBA’s most popular franchise, new Barangay Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua is aiming to bring back the “never say die” spirit that made the Gin Kings so successful in the past.
Chua was tabbed as the new Ginebra head coach, replacing Siot Tanquingcen who will remain as an assistant.
In an interview with Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star, Chua revealed that he will meet the squad as head coach for the first time on Monday.
“My philosophy is if I push my players, I have to push myself harder,” Chua told Henson. “I realize I have to be mentally prepared to do this. To me, it all boils down to commitment.”
“What we’re hoping to bring back is Ginebra’s ‘never say die’ spirit. That’s what it’s all about,” he stressed.
Prior to the PBA Philippine Cup, the Kings acquired point guard LA Tenorio. After winning their first two games, Ginebra lost five straight, although they were able to salvage their season with a five-game winning streak.
They ended the elimination round with a 7-7 record and lost to eventual finalist Rain or Shine in three games in the quarter-finals.
For the upcoming conference, Ginebra will have the services of import Herbert Hill.
Chua is already looking forward to the road ahead and told Henson he plans to give every player in his roster the opportunity to contribute.
“There’s no question all our players are capable,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how they’ll react to situations when they’re given the chance to play. We want everyone to be motivated to give it his all.”
“We’ve got to be all on the same page, offensively and defensively,” Chua added.
The new coach said they “could use another big man” in their roster, but insists they are “ready to succeed with the pieces we’ve got.”
“Working hard is what we must do,” Chua told Henson. “Whatever gaps we have in the line-up, we’ll be able to compensate if we work hard. We’ll give the players a little more freedom on the court, to get our game going.”
Chua added that he does not expect to make major changes in Ginebra’s style of play, instead making on “a few tweaks here and there, maybe some new plays.”
Even as he aims to revive the “never say die” spirit that has defined the Ginebra of lore, Chua tempered expectations of the team’s supporters for the upcoming conference.
“I don’t think there’s any team in the PBA today that’s a pushover. Every team is a contender,” he said. “I’ll take it one practice at a time.”
“We’re out to rebuild our confidence, to enjoy playing with each other. If we play as one, if we play together, if we trust one another, the wins will come, the championships will come,” he said.