ONE harrowing experience revisited former national coach Jong Uichico when he saw up-close and personal the injuries that fell Ranidel de Ocampo and Jayson Castro one after the other during the tune-up match between Gilas Pilipinas and Kazakhstan Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Uichico can’t help but recall of the time Danny Seigle tore his right Achilles tendon during a similar exhibition match against Qatar in 2002 while the national team which he handled was in the midst of its training for the Busan Asian Games.
The 6-foot-7 forward, who was at his peak at the time and considered one of the secret weapons of the team, never got to suit up for the Asiad following the injury, and later on, was sidelined for the entire 2003 PBA season.
“If you remember, we were playing Qatar in an exhibition game, and that’s where (Danny) Seigle got injured. That’s why he wasn’t able to play in Busan (Asian Games),” recalled the soft-spoken Uichico, who serves as deputy to national coach Chot Reyes at Gilas.
The Philippines suffered a heartbreaking setback against host Korea during the Asiad semifinals, and then lost to Kazakhstan in the battle for the bronze.
Although the injuries to Castro and De Ocampo may not be as serious as what Seigle suffered 11 years ago, Uichico said it still remains a concern considering the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship is less than a week away before it formally kicks off at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With injuries all part of the game, the eight-time PBA champion believes Gilas should have to strike a balance between going hard in a scrimmage or just practice by itself to avoid getting hurt.
“I think we’re ready na naman (for the Fiba-Asia showpiece). But of course, injuries are unavoidable. We want a few more scrimmage like what we had the past days just to stay sharp and in shape,” Uichico told Spin.ph Saturday.
Despite Castro and De Ocampo failing to finish the game against Kazakhstan after both sprained their respective ankles, the national team won, 92-89.
“So we need to strike a balance and ang hirap nun, on whether not to play, or play but not play hard. But if you don’t play hard naman, eh nag-scrimmage ka pa. So it happens, these (injuries) things are unavoidable,” explained Uichico.