MANILA, September 12, 2003 (STAR) Bonnie Garcia, the youthful coaching consultant of the FedEx Express was elevated to the position of head coach, replacing veteran mentor Derrick Pumaren.

FedEx Express team manager Lito Alvarez, who is also president of the Air21 firm that owns the Express franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), made the announcement yesterday after a heart-to-heart talk with Pumaren.

"Management is thankful to coach Pumaren for transforming the Express team into one of the forces to reckon with in the PBA. We are a young franchise, and yet, we have never been a league doormat. As a matter of fact, we finished strongly the past two conferences when we entered the semis and were just a game short of the finals," said Alvarez.

But according to Alvarez, Pumarenís coaching ways were at times at odds with the Expressí business philosophy.

"We wanted kasi to get every player in the team be involved in the rotation, because when we hire people at Air21, we know that they are capable and will deliver for us. Itís the same with the players," said Alvarez.

"We parted amicably, we are all professionals here. Coach Pumaren is a real gentleman, who accepted our decision with an open mind," added Alvarez of Pumaren, who steered the Swift Mighty Meaties to a near-grandslam feat in 1995.

Alvarez said that Express management will still pay the remainder of Pumarenís contract with the team.

The FedEx team manager said that Garcia, who was a former coach of the Laguna Lakers team, also owned by Bert Lina in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), will act an as interim head coach of the Express, who currently hold a 1-2 slate in the ongoing PBA Reinforced Conference.

Garcia also acted as the assistant coach of NBA legend Darryl Dakwins for the United States Basketball League (USBL) champion team Philadelphia Vallewdawgs.

"I didnít have time to think of the offer, mabilisan kasi ang pangyayari. But this a real challenge for me and I hope I will live up to the expectations of management," said Garcia.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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