Petron set to promote US mentor Todd Purves
MANILA, Philippines — A coaching change is again looming at Petron Blaze with management reportedly set to give American assistant Todd Purves a more active role in calling the shots during games in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup which starts in early March.
The move is nothing new as far as San Miguel Corp. teams are concerned, with the likes of even more established coaches—Jong Uichico at Barangay Ginebra and Siot Tanquingcen and Ato Agustin also at Petron— getting relieved after failed campaigns.
Gee Abanilla, who steered the Boosters to a semifinal stint in the ongoing Philippine Cup, actually spelled Tanquingcen and Agustin several times while he was still one of the assistants.
He took over full time in last season’s Governors’ Cup and steered the squad to a second-place finish behind sister team San Mig Coffee in seven dramatic games.
It could also be an ironic twist that Purves will be calling the shots for a squad that will revert back to its proud San Miguel Beer name in the next conference.
Carrying the name San Miguel Beer in the Asean Basketball League last year, the Beermen, handled by Leo Austria who is now also an assistant at Petron, beat Purves’ Indonesian side in the championship. San Miguel has since bolted from the ABL.
Purves, a former video coordinator of the Sacramento Kings in the NBA, is already responsible for the defensive plays of the Boosters ever since he was wooed out of the Indonesian squad.
Petron’s semifinal exit in the Philippine Cup at the hands of Rain or Shine, certainly doesn’t sit well with management, more so since the Boosters were one of the fancied sides in the season-opening conference with a super-loaded lineup led by June Mar Fajardo and reigning MVP Arwind Santos.
The Boosters actually opened with seven straight wins and set the pace for most of the eliminations, only to sputter and qualify for the playoffs third overall. Then they ran into a brick wall that was Rain or Shine.
Management also came up with this approach in the Philippine Cup last season where Rajko Toroman, the Serbian who was the first coach of the Gilas Pilipinas program, called the shots despite being listed as an assistant to Olsen Racela.
Toroman was later booted out unceremoniously because of the clamor from the players and Racela was given full rein of the Boosters.
But the former star guard failed to lead the Boosters to a championship, hence, the appointment of Abanilla.
Meanwhile, Beau Belga of Rain or Shine was named the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week after sterling performances that helped the Elasto Painters close out the Boosters earlier than what most pundits had expected.
Belga was the hero of the Game 4 win and paced all Rain or Shine shooters with 18 points in the clinching fifth game that the Painters pulled off despite the absence of suspended head coach Yeng Guiao.
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