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Uichico still learning at 56

JONG UICHICO

By Rey C. Lachica

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The “itch” to be part of a coaching staff – national team or not – has forced multi-titled mentor Jong Uichico to slide down as assistant to a young bench tactician in Charles Tiu for Mighty Sports.

Suspended by FIBA (International Basketball Federation) for three games for his involvement in the massive and ugly brawl with the national team of Australia last year, Uichico said he does mind being the assistant of Tiu.

It’s not a demotion on his part, but Uichico swears he hates to be stagnant.

Jong Uichico
Jong Uichico

The 9-time PBA champion coach wants action, and he loves to help prepare the team though his deep and analytical insights being in this business for several decades now.

Not only that. He also wants to help young coaches just like what went through before becoming one of the country’s successful coaches.

Back in the 80s, Uichico has played and won several championships for the PH team under the revered Ron Jacobs.

When he retired, he became one of Jacob’s trusted lieutenants.

“I do love to be part of a team whether it’s for national cause or not, so when coach Charles invited me to assist him, I immediate asked permission from the bosses whether I can go with Mighty Sports,” said Uichico. “So I’m happy to be part of Mighty Sports.”

Mighty Sports owner Alex Wongchuking was thrilled when Uichico obliged to be one of Tiu’s assistants in the 30th Dubai Internatiionak Basketball Championship which opened yesterday at the Shabal Al Ahli Club here.

Asked if it he feels awkward or embarrass being Tiu’s assistant, Uichico – without batting an eyelash – said: “No, I know coach Charles because he was part of the Gilas coaching staff before.”

“We are representing our country here so that’s one challenge to me,” said Uichico who showered Tiu with glowing words.

Uichico said Tiu has the makings of a good coach being articulate when communicating with his players and assistant coaches.

“He’s not afraid to delegate his duties to his assistants and he welcomes suggestions from us,” said Uichico. “One good thing about coach Charles, he’s very innovative and has so many ideas.”

Despite his 9 championship rings, Uichico is still learning at 56.

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