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Ginebra names Agustin as interim coach, Chua as team manager

Ato Agustin

MANILA, Philippines - Brgy. Ginebra Kings named Ato Agustin as an interim coach on Thursday while erstwhile mentor Al Chua will become the new team manager.  

The set-up will be good for at least the duration of the PBA Governors' Cup.

Agustin confirmed his new assignment to Philstar.com on Thursday late evening. 

"In-announce nga kanina ng management yung bago kong assignment at nag-usap na rin kami ni coach Al," Agustin told Philstar.com.

"Kako, pagtulungan naming dalawa ito since siya naman talaga ang bumuo ng team na 'to," he added. 

The move finally ended the coaching crisis in the Ginebra camp that saw Chua resigning from his post at the start of the Kings' training camp last July 15 citing "personal reasons" but many believed it was due to the series of re-shuffling of players and coaches within the three SMC ballclubs without his knowledge. 

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Chua was later prevailed upon to just file a leave of absence for the duration of the Governors' Cup while SMC sports director and basketball consultant Noli Eala was re-assigned to another post outside its three teams in the PBA. 

Agustin was one of the new assistant coaches who came aboard alongside Jorge Gallent and University of the East Red Warriors coach Boysie Zamar prior to his appointment as the interim coach. The 1992 PBA MVP previously held a head coaching position at San Miguel Beermen/Petron Blaze Boosters.

He has led an undermanned Petron team to the Governors' Cup title two seasons ago before he fell out of favor when they struggled in the following season with all the injuries gone and the blockbuster trade that saw veterans Danny Seigle and Dondon Hontiveros leaving for young prospects Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Noy Baclao and Rey Guevarra. 

In his brief stint with Petron, Agustin was known as a player's coach. And that's what he intends to do with only little time to prepare for the coming season-ending conference. 

"May pagka-free wheeling rin naman ang sistema ni Coach Al relying on the strength of his players and besides he told me naman na 'andito lang ako', Agustin said.

"Masaya rin ako na maganda rin ang reception ng mga players sa akin kanina and I believe with Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand and Kerby Raymundo's leadership magiging ok ang takbo ng team."

And it also helps that Agustin has worked with Chua before in Pop Cola during the 1996-97 season with the latter as assistant coach to then head coach Norman Black.

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