In its PBA franchise history, the Purefoods ballclub now called the Star Hotshots has been known not only as a multi-titled squad but also a captivating team built around two eras of charismatic superstars in Alvin Patrimonio and James Yap.
With Yap being dealt to Rain or Shine during the off-season, San Miguel Corporation Sports Director Alfrancis Chua believes there won’t be any void to be filled when it comes to their mass appeal now that Big Game James is gone.
Patrimonio meantime remains to be a fan favorite since he was named team manager the year he retired in 2004.
Chua said the hardcourt skills of Allein Maliksi, Aldreich Ramos, Jio Jalalon and Paul Lee would be enough to maintain their throng of loyal supporters or maybe even boost their number of fanatics.
“Nung nakapasok kami sa semis, ang daming sumikat na player. Nag-step up mga players because of playing time and positioning,” said Chua “I think maganda future ng Star. It’s a matter of molding them lang. Napadelikadong team.
Maraming pahihirapan ang team na yan.”
Chua however said basketball fans should eventually accept that trading players, even it involves supposed resident superstars, is a norm in all of basketball.
“Ang mga trade kasi mahirap talaga tanggapin para sa coach o management lalo na kung malapit sayo yung bata, “ said Chua. “Hindi din naman nagte-trade ang isang team. Tatanungin din yung coach and player. Maraming player, gusto magpa-trade dahil about playing time.”
While Jalalon and Maliksi had their defining moments during their Philippine Cup semis duel opposite Ginebra, Chua said their adjustments with their veteran players particularly Mark Pingris and Rafi Reavis would bode really well in their upcoming campaigns.
Their former coach and latest tormentor Tim Cone of Ginebra also sees good times rolling soon for Star which he led to a Grand Slam in 2013 as the American guru credits the coaching knack of rookie mentor Chito Victolero as key to their future.
“From where they came the team was in disarray when he took over. He immediately got them moving at the right direction,” said Cone ““He was getting them to buy in and really believe in what they’re doing and we were really shaking our heads in studying the videos. It’s just that our great equalizer in that series was our crowd.”
Cone said he really got a good feel of how Victolero was doing when they met in last tournament’s semifinals.
“Chito was really doing some sophisticated stuff out there that you don’t normally see from a young coach. He’s very creative and his guys were executing it,” said Cone “He also coached with a great calm I didn’t see him get riled up.
He’s gonna win his share, that’s for sure. He will seize it and he’ll get it.” (DENNIS PRINCIPE)