Jong Uichico finds niche as mentor of coaches
Away from competitive basketball for a few months now, nine-time PBA champion coach Jong Uichico has found fulfillment in his role as mentor to thousands of tacticians all over the country.
Uichico currently heads the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) coaches’ academy, an initiative that provides an avenue for provincial-based mentors to learn about basic coaching structures and frameworks.
It’s a far different environment that Uichico is used to, having been coaching in the PBA starting in 1993 as an assistant at San Miguel.
“This is my way of giving back to the sport that has been good to me,” Uichico told the Inquirer on his role that he took almost two years ago.
The Philippines may be a basketball-mad country where almost everyone has an opinion on the game, but Uichico—through his travels conducting coaches’ clinics—observed a vacuum remains in education at the grassroots level.
“Many of our coaches are willing and committed to learn,” said the 57-year-old Uichico, pointing out that the SBP Academy now has accredited more than 2,000 coaches after he and his staff reached almost 50 provinces from as far as Kidapawan in the South and Tuguegarao in the North.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has not stopped Uichico from sharing his knowledge as he has posted several workout videos on social media and has solicited questions from coaches that he can answer in online sessions in the future.
“It’s important [for the coaches] because how they teach our young players will be the foundation of the future of basketball in the country,” Uichico said.
“We are a basketball-crazy country, but it’s really more of a ‘backyard’ basketball-crazy country. The structure has not totally trickle down to the grassroots level. We don’t want to be left behind by other countries.”Uichico’s last coaching stint came last year when he served as head coach of the Bataan Risers in the MPBL’s third season.
But after issues with management, which included delayed salaries, Uichico parted ways with the team.
Uichico is still open to coaching duties in the pros but for now, he feels mentoring coaches is his calling.
“I just want to do my part in improving the standard of coaching in the country.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.