Coaching shifts to rearm MVP teams
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - PLDT chairman Manny V. Pangilinan announced the other day a major realignment in the coaching composition of Talk ‘N’ Text, Meralco and N-Lex as the three teams rearm for the PBA’s 40th season set to start Oct. 19.

Several meetings were held here and abroad involving Pangilinan’s basketball braintrusts before firming up the reorganization which underwent a thorough management process to find the right coaches for the right teams with the goals of enhancing the MVP group’s talent pool, embarking on a long-term development program and building a high level of competitiveness to win championships.

Pangilinan made the disclosure in the company of Maynilad president/CEO Ricky Vargas, Meralco senior vice president Al Panlilio, Metro Pacific Tollways president/CEO Ramoncito Fernandez, Maynilad senior vice president Patrick Gregorio and Gilas coach/TV5 sports head/MVP Sports Foundation executive director Chot Reyes at the Meralco head office.

Designated to coach Talk ‘N’ Text was Joseph Uichico who has won six titles with San Miguel Beer and two with Barangay Ginebra. His staff will consist of assistants Nash Racela, Josh Reyes and Bong Ravena with former New Zealand national coach Tab Baldwin as consultant.  Former PBA player Magnum Membrere, a Master’s degree holder in communications, will serve as assistant manager supported by Aboy Castro as consultant.

Norman Black, who has 11 PBA and five UAAP titles under his belt, will now coach Meralco with Ronnie Magsanoc, Jamike Jarin, Patrick Fran, Xavy Nunag and Gene Afable as assistants.  A slot remains to be filled for a full-time assistant. Paolo Trillo will join Black with the Bolts as team manager.  Former team manager Butch Antonio will become the SBP deputy executive director in charge of the national squad and continue as MVP Sports Foundation project director in charge of basketball, boxing and badminton.

Six-peat PBA D-League champion coach Boyet Fernandez will pilot N-Lex which has acquired the Air21 franchise.  Fernandez, however, will finish the NCAA season with San Beda College before moving back to the PBA where he was once Coach of the Year with Sta. Lucia Realty.  His Warriors staff will consist of Adonis Tierra, Jojo Lastimosa, Sandy Arrespacochaga, Mon Celis and Ford Arao with Allan Gregorio as team consultant.

Former Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio has been appointed as alternate PBA governor for the Bolts.  “Ryan is special in our group,” said Pangilinan.  “He holds the rank of assistant vice president in charge of sports and youth advocacy at Meralco.  He did a lot of soul-searching before deciding to commit himself to corporate life.  We talked about his career when we met in Hong Kong about a month ago.  At some point, a basketball career will end for either a player or coach.  Did he want to press on with the team?  It was a tough decision because his heart is in basketball.  But in the end, the decision was to move on and explore possibilities in human resources.  Ryan is a great corporate communications person.  He may need to go to business school for training and education but he won’t be totally lost to basketball.”

Pangilinan said the prototypical example of a reinvented achiever is Reyes who went from PBA coach to national coach and concurrently, TV5 Sport head, MVP Sports Foundation executive director and a media personality.  

Vargas explained that while Talk ‘N’ Text, Meralco and N-Lex are independently competitive, they share the same values. “We’re all MVP Group oriented,” he said. “Planning is done separately.  In fact, in our MVP Olympics, competition is so fierce that we decided to make it once every two years instead of every year because it was getting too intense.  But while there is internal competition, there is also camaraderie.  It’s evident when we mobilize for relief operations in disaster areas.  We also generate synergies in our IT, CSR and HR councils across the MVP Group.  We bring our culture and corporate values to every organization and that includes our teams. The image of our teams is like the image of what the MVP Group stands for.”

Vargas said the coaching realignment went through a rigorous and agonizing process.  “First, we looked at each team then we analyzed the talent and skill sets needed for a coach to succeed and who was the best fit to the organization,” he said. “Then, we examined the personality and style of each candidate, studying how he would handle different situations. We spent hours going over the options.”

Pangilinan said the situation prompted a rejiggering. “We wanted to break up comfort zones and bring in new talent,” he went on.  “We shifted Sandy to Boyet and brought in Jolas.  At the same time, we wanted the right people working together because chemistry is critical.  We also wanted to enrich our genes pool.  We wanted our coaches to grow and learn from each other.  We looked to strengthen our core of assistant coaches because they’re the future of every franchise.”

Pangilinan said with N-Lex moving to the PBA, another MVP company will take over the PBA D-League slot.  “We want to continue our participation in the D-League with a younger coaching staff,” he said.  “This is for the future generation.  Our core of players is still there and we want to maintain our tradition of participation and winning.”  Possible entities to pick up where N-Lex left off are Philex Mining and Cignal TV.

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