Usually guarded, Jong Uichico opens up to awaken a TNT team that's 'stuck in the past'
“Chot Reyes did a great job, but they’re reliving those days,” says TNT coach Jong Uichico. “It’s not there anymore. They should find another way to play the game.” Jerome Ascano  

TROPANG TNT coach Jong Uichico lamented his players' lack of fight against Alaska in their do-or-die quarterfinal game in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, saying they tend to get stuck in their past success with former coach Chot Reyes.

The usually laconic mentor turned emotional as he talked with scribes after a long meeting with Texters management, led by owner Manny V. Pangilinan, following the team’s 99-81 loss on Friday night that left for naught their Game One win in the best-of-three series.

“We played well the first game, we played pretty well the second game, but they didn’t play at all today,” Uichico said. “Of course, give credit to Alaska.”

“But even if it’s not a do or die, how can another team just dominate you that way?” the nine-time champion coach added. “We could’ve lost the game (by a smaller margin), but not this way, never – unless the team is so superior, which they are not.”

Reminded of his team’s past success, Uichico emphasized the word “past."

“That’s right, it’s the past,” he said. “They're living in their time with Chot Reyes.”

The Texters had five championships under Reyes, who, coincidentally, was also present at the Big Dome, watching his first live game in a long while.

“Chot Reyes did a great job, but they’re reliving those days,” Uichico continued. “It’s not there anymore. They should find another way to play the game.”

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Uichico rued his team gave up early.

“It’s just their attitude,” he said. “When things are going well, they’re going well. When things aren’t going well, they just give up. It’s happened so many times.”

“When things don’t go your way, just keep on playing,” he added. “Don’t be the first one to…I’m not saying they quit. It’s just that when things aren’t going their way, the more you should find resiliency in yourself.”

“They tried, but not enough.”

Asked of possible player movements, Uichico, like Pangilinan, couldn’t give definite answer.

“I don’t know. It’s too early to tell,” he said. “But attitude is first (that should change).”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos