MANILA - Barangay Ginebra San Miguel team manager Alfrancis Chua admitted that he didn't know who to support during the UAAP men's basketball finals between the eventual champions, De La Salle University Green Archers, and the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
Chua, who was head coach for Ginebra before being appointed as team manager, had both La Salle's Juno Sauler and Allan Caidic as part of his coaching staff.
"It was a difficult situation for me in the UAAP Finals because I’m from UST. I sat behind the La Salle bench in Game 1 but in Game 3, I sat on the UST side," he was quoted as saying by the Philippine Star in a report published Saturday.
The coach also mentioned that he turned down an invitation from Growling Tigers coach Pido Jarencio to talk to the UST players before the start of Game 3.
"I declined as I couldn’t do that to Juno. I told coach Pido I’ll just watch from the UST side," he said.
Chua, who has a close relationship with Sauler, remained in contact with the title-winning coach even after the split.
"I’m very happy for Juno who’s not only a good friend but also a good coach. I’ll always support Juno. We text practically every day," Chua said.
"On the morning of that game (Game 3), I wished Juno good luck and told him this was his day, to enjoy it. I’m very proud of Juno, he made it happen. He’s a humble guy, very intense, very selfless. Off the court, he has a very good sense of humor, a family man. He and I are big mixed martial arts fans," he added.
Chua also recalled giving words of encouragement to Sauler when he was appointed head coach of the Green Archers just three weeks before the start of the UAAP season.
“I told Juno he’s ready for it, he’s been with Ginebra over 10 years,” he said.
“I mentioned that Boss ECJ wouldn’t have appointed him if he wasn’t confident. I told Juno it’s basketball he’s coaching, not volleyball, so that’s his expertise. I had a feeling from the start, things would work out. When La Salle made it to the Final 4, I told Juno he’s got a good chance of winning the championship and I would save a single-malt Japanese whisky to celebrate. I think Juno owes me three bottles now.”