Koy Banal shrugs off SMC rumors, to present 3-yr plan for Phoenix

Coach Koy Banal is set to make a presentation of his 3-year plan for new PBA squad Phoenix Fuel Masters at the company’s head office in Global City, Taguig this Tuesday.

Banal is well aware of reports that Star seemed to be keen at prying him back to the Purefoods franchise, but it’s one that he chose to laugh off, saying he’s got his hands full as far as his current job at Phoenix is concerned.

“Eto nga, gumagawa pa ako ng presentation para sa mga bosses ng Phoenix bukas. It’s a 3-year plan, which I’ll be presenting, and I hope maka-Finals kami during that time because nasa rebuilding mode na kami,” Banal told FOX Sports on Monday.

A successful college coach way back with Far Eastern University in the UAAP and later, San Beda College (NCAA) where he won men’s basketball championships the past decade, Banal said coaching another PBA team is farthest in his mind.

He said proof of him being focused on Phoenix was the recent trades the Fuel Masters had the past 2 weeks, which saw the team acquire rookies Simon Enciso, Mark Cruz and big man Norbert Torres, along with veteran stretch four Mark Borboran.

“Gusto kasi namin sa Phoenix, fresh start that’s why we wanted young players, mga bata na iga-guide ng ilang mga veterans,” noted the soft-spoken coach.

Phoenix, which bought the Barako Bull franchise lock, stock and barrel last January, struggled in its first conference in the PBA after finishing with a 3-8 record in the Commissioner’s Cup.

With the long-term picture in mind, Banal explained that Phoenix top-level management is looking to build the team from ground up, a similar style that Rain or Shine underwent several years back.

“Actually, yung ginagawa namin parang gaya sa Rain or Shine din, kasi ganun din naman sila nagsimula,” he shared.

“If you remember, kumuha rin sila ng ilang mga beterano gaya ni Nic Belasco para i-guide yung mga bata sa team,” reasoned Banal.

Banal said he has nothing but fond memories for the Purefoods franchise, where he started serving as an assistant coach from 2004 to 2013.

But with an existing contract with Phoenix, which he hopes to renew once his presentation is done, Banal is looking to take the challenge of handling a rejigged Fuel Masters squad.

“Marami kaming mga potential na mga batang players ngayon sa team. Just imagine Prince Caperal and Mike Miranda, iyan ang mga future na big men ng team na if ma-develop, can really help (the team) a lot,” said Banal, whose old contract with the Barako Bull franchise is set to expire at the end of August.

The younger brother of former PBA coach Joel, also noted that the 6-foot-6 Torres, a first-round pick in last year’s draft, who saw limited minutes at Star, is another potential star for Phoenix.

“He can shoot from the outside and has a decent post move. Kailangan lang matutukan,” Banal added.

Banal said the 41-year-old Mick Pennisi will serve as the role of a “big brother” to the team’s young centers, hoping the left-handed Fil-Australian can impart his wealth of knowledge in the PBA. – By Richard Dy

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