There really is no question that coach Jong Uichico is one of the greatest minds in Philippine basketball.
From the Philippine Basketball Association to the international arena, the 57-year-old has tasted success that most young, up-and-coming bench tacticians can only aspire to.
But make no mistake: Not everything was handed to Uichico, including the trust of his mentor.
Serving as a speaker in the ongoing Hoop Coaches International Webinar last Wednesday, Uichico revealed that the great Ron Jacobs, initially, had little confidence in him to be a coach.
“Honestly, coach Ron was really looking for somebody to share his knowledge. And he did not have confidence in me.
“Why? Because he did not think that I will spend the time. He did not think I was the type of person to spend the time,” added Uichico, who started in the PBA as an assistant in San Miguel in 1993.
Determined, he showed Jacobs — his coach in the famed NCC team that struck gold in the 1982 ABC (now FIBA-Asia) Under-18 Championships — that he was more than devoted.
He often visited Jacobs in his home just to discuss anything about the game of basketball, even staying up late doing so. And that, Uichico believes, made the American convinced.
“I had to… Hindi naman prove him wrong, but even after my playing days I always go to him, stay late in the night, just to talk about basketball,” said Uichico, who called it quits after his stint with NCC.
“So ‘yun, parang those nights I think it made him decide that, yes he is going to spend the time. Because what will I do there in the night? I can stay at home. But I went to him to talk about basketball — watch the games, talk about basketball. So that was the turning point.
“The time that I spent just sitting down with him, dinner after dinner, just talking about basketball… That made him convinced that I will be willing to spend the time,” he furthered.
Nine championships, two Coach of the Year awards, and a bevy of medals in the Asian stage later, Jacobs is surely smiling down from heaven on the man he’d first had little expectations of.
The SBP Coaches Commission chief, later on, stressed in the webinar organized by Elite alternate governor Ariel Vanguardia that coaches should really be dedicated to the craft.
“You have to be willing to spend the time. And sacrifice. Because, you know, you practice three hours a day, then you watch the game that’s another three hours, you talk to the coaches.
“It’s more than just the whole day. And when you’re home, it’s not like basketball stops when you’re at home. No. You keep thinking. Sometimes you cannot sleep because you keep thinking. All the time you keep thinking. So you should be willing to spend the time,” he shared.