PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA – Todd Purves is no stranger to Philippine basketball, having spent two years as active coaching consultant of San Miguel Beer.
In a short span, he was able to see some of the players grow and become stars.
The biggest star was definitely June Mar Fajardo, who won the first of his six straight Most Valuable Player awards with the American mentor at the helm of the Beermen.
But what makes Fajardo a greater player, according to Purves?
“I think more than being a great player, he’s a great individual. He’s a great person,” Purves told Daily Tribune. “For me, that’s the most important. I can forget the scores, who makes the game-winning basket or make the great plays, but I will never forget if a person is such a great human being and June Mar is the greatest individual I’ve ever coached in the Philippines.”
Because Fajardo is so lovable by everyone, Purves cannot recall a time where the 6-foot-10 Cebuano slotman had trouble against anybody.
“He is loved, adored and respected by everyone. He’s got no mean bone on his body,” added Purves. “Perhaps the only person who gave him some trouble was Beau Belga, who has the body to endure the banging of a big player like June Mar. Beau was a highly-physical player.”
True enough, Belga had one series where he was able to get the better end of the match up against Fajardo and his team, then known as the Petron Blaze Boosters.
The Elasto Painters defeated the Boosters in five games of their best-of-seven semifinals series of the 2013-2014 Philippine Cup and set up a title showdown with eventual champion San Mig Coffee.
Purves burst onto the Philippine Basketball Association scene in 2013 at the height of San Miguel franchise’s “Petronovela” when the squad just couldn’t get it done amid its talented roster.
When he left the PBA, San Miguel started to rebuild a dynasty under head coach Leo Austria where the Beermen won a total of nine championships in seven years, including five straight titles in the Philippine Cup.
The well-travelled Purves is now the head coach of the Vietnam men’s basketball team in the Southeast Asian Games.