SAN MIGUEL CORP. (SMC) has not thrown its support to the revamped University of Santo Tomas (UST) — at least for now.

Amidst multiple reports citing the official and long been rumored arrival of SMC — with proud UST son Alfrancis Chua at helm — in España, a high ranking official clarified that nothing has been signed on the dotted line as the Growling Tigers plot the initial phase of a massive rebuild under new coach Pido Jarencio.

“UST is not yet being backed by SMC. We’re still courting coach Al to come on board,” Waiyip Chong, one of the newly-appointed UST team managers, yesterday told The STAR.

Mr. Chua, the architect that weaved SMC’s dominance in the PBA and later on in the NCAA with Colegio de San Juan de Letran was present in a dinner on Monday with UST officials, management and coaching staff after the official contract signing of Mr. Jarencio for three seasons.

His presence in the gathering with the attendance of UST IPEA Director Fr. Rodel Cansancio, O.P., raised speculations of SMC’s tie-up at last with the Growling Tigers, including a rumored appointment of Mr. Chua as Special Assistant to the Rector for Basketball.

It’s similar to his role in Intramuros as Letran’s Special Assistant to the Rector for Sports Development, which in the process towed the Knights to a three-peat in the NCAA.

But Mr. Chong cleared that Mr. Chua attended only in support of Mr. Jarencio in his return to their alma mater 17 years after bringing home UST’s last UAAP title to date. It was also Mr. Jarencio who’s vouching for Mr. Chua to take the role, on a personal basis for now, and not including the SMC yet.

UST and Letran are sister Dominican schools while Messrs. Chua and Jarencio go way back from being former Glowing Goldies in the 80s before serving as vital cogs behind Bonnie Tan, now UST consultant, in Letran’s NCAA dynasty.

And while there have not been any official terms for now, the courting is in the works especially with Messrs. Tan, Chong and Jarencio — who are now all deck in UST — are wooing their good pal Mr. Chua to join on board.

“UST is still trying to convince coach Al for SMC’s blessing. The Growling Tigers are still in the infancy of a long, winding rebuild. The road will not be smooth and easy from here on but rest assured that we’re leaving no stone unturned to bring España back to its ultimate goal — to win in the UAAP,” added Mr. Chong, who also served as manager of Letran. — John Bryan Ulanday