JONG Uichico was clueless when asked about the reported coaching change at TNT Katropa that will have long-time deputy Nash Racela taking over his place.
The soft-spoken mentor admitted being surprised by the news which the Inquirer's Musong Castillo broke on Wednesday morning, which he got wind of as he was running TNT practice at the Moro Lorenzo Gym inside the Ateneo campus.
Uichico said he hasn't heard from top management about any changes more than two weeks since the top-seeded Texters were eliminated in the semifinals of the season-ending PBA Governors Cup by the Meralco Bolts.
“I just saw it in the news. I haven’t heard anything from management,” he said in a message to SPIN.ph. “In fact I’m still in practice.”
Sources said Racela’s appointment couldn’t be made official yet since the young mentor is still in the middle of the UAAP campaign, where he is calling the shots for the defending champions Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
UAAP coaches are prohibited from handling a PBA ballclub at the same time.
Once the collegiate season is over, Racela will reportedly move full-time to TNT Katropa, with FEU assistant coach Josh Reyes taking over the duties with the Tamaraws.
The Texters began training for the coming 42nd season of the league last Monday at the Moro Lorenzo gym with Uichico still the one in charge, according to team manager Virgil Villavicencio.
“As of now, we’re practicing with coach Jong and we’re planning with coach Jong,” he said, adding a planned team building is in the works just before the season opens on November 20.
Uichico, 54, is one of the league's most successful coaches, having won 10 league championships with San Miguel, Ginebra and TNT - the last coming in last year's Commissioner's Cup against Rain or Shine.
However, bosses in the MVP group were very much disappointed over TNT's loss to Meralco in the last Governors Cup semifinals that one top official considered swinging Yeng Guiao over to TNT before Guiao's appointment as new NLEX coach was formalized.
On the other hand, Racela led FEU to a UAAP championship last season in just his third year in charge of the Tamaraws.