JERRY Codiñera became known as one of the best defensive players in the PBA, and he has legendary coach Ron Jacobs to thank for it.
As a teenager, Codiñera accepted an offer to become part of the national team backed by Northern Consolidated through Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco and coached by Jacobs, who was not about to treat the youngster with kids' gloves.
But Codiñera never regretted his decision to be part of the national team in 1984 even though it took aches and pains to keep his spot in the squad.
“I learned so much from the team and from coach Ron,” said Codiñera, coach of the Nueva Ecija Besprens team, during an interview with NBL Baseline. “Talagang dinefine nya ‘yung roles ko, dinefine niya ang roles, ang system ng team. Klaro lahat ‘yun.”
Even though he was still very young at the time, Codiñera said he wasn’t exempted from the tough practices that Jacobs ran. The PBA legend recalled guarding naturalized player Dennis Still as well as other players who were the best amateurs at the time.
“Talagang grueling ang training. At the age of 16, 17, I was training with the men’s team. Napakahirap. Talagang you will sacrifice a lot to a point that he will break you down. Talagang magku-quit ka kasi paulit-ulit at napakahirap.
"Nakikipag-drill ka sa Dennis Still na 6-9, nakikipag-drill ka kay Yves Dignadice na number one player namin noon. It’s very tough for me,” said Codiñera.
Codiñera earned his spurs during those tough drills and in 1985, he was part of the national squad that ruled the 13th Asian Basketball Championship (ABC) — a tournament that is now dubbed the Fiba Asia Cup.
The championship meant that the Philippines qualified for the World Championship the following year but the political instability in the country forced the national federation to pull out of the tournament.
Codiñera became a direct hire of Purefoods in 1988 along with Alvin Patrimonio, Jojo Lastimosa, and Glenn Capacio. The drills and practices came in handy as Codiñera admitted the transition to the PBA became easy for him.
“Kaya pag-akyat ko sa PBA, it’s nothing new to me. Import? Sanay na ako dito sa dami ng bugbog na inabot ko [kay Dennis Still],” said Codinera.
That was all because of Jacobs.
“I was prepared. Ginu-groom ako in preparation sa mga future tournaments. I was so blessed that I took the offer,” said Codiñera.
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