WEDNESDAY night television viewing at home was not an entirely pleasant experience for Jong Uichico, who had to sit through two-plus hours of a drama-filled game between Meralco and KIA to know if his Talk 'N Text side will be in the PBA Governors Cup playoffs or not.
When it was all over, Uichico was understandably frustrated, not so much because Meralco's loss to KIA knocked Talk 'N Text out of the playoff race, but more because the Texters - one of the league's perennial title favorites - had to depend on the result of the other teams' games just to make the playoffs.
"That's the frustrating part," Uichico told Spin.ph.
They Said It!
“Parang NBA lang ah, Rosario = Towns, Tautuaa = Okafor, Parks = Russell. pag nagpa draft Parks diyan feeling ko siya pipiliin ng TnT as #1 overall pick. Mas kailangan nila big, pero iba yun versatility na maibibigay ni Parks sa kanila. Imagine a back court of Castro, Parks and Ganuelas. Pero kahit sino piliin ng TnT sa tatlo, for sure sila team to beat next season." SPIN.ph Facebook follower Ronnel Villarojas Belleza
With Talk 'N Text's season coming to a premature end, just months after lifting the Commissioner's Cup trophy, Uichico said the silver lining is that he will have a lot of time to look back on his first season as TnT coach and plan for the next campaign, beginning with the rookie draft.
Uichico said he plans to begin training camp early for Talk 'N Text. In fact the team will begin its offseason buildup even before the Governors Cup Finals will be over, with the veteran coach turning over the reins to assistants Nash Racela, Josh Reyes and Bong Ravena when he joins Tab Baldwin in the Gilas Pilipinas staff.
"Remember, this will be my first offseason with Talk 'N Text," said the multi-titled coach, who took over the TnT reins from Norman Black in midseason. "So I want to put in a lot of work. That's the bright side."
Uichico also has a lot of big decisions to do in the offseason on a lineup that is much older than most teams' and which he admitted has a couple of gaps to fill at center and the three spot - the reason coaches and management will be meeting as early as next week to plot their course of action.
The biggest on the agenda, of course, is the August 23 rookie draft, which will give Talk 'N Text the first big opportunity to improve on its current roster - thanks to an early-season trade with expansion team Blackwater that will now give the Texters first crack on the next rookie pool.
Uichico said he hasn't given the rookie draft a lot of thought - "Malayo pa 'yan, there's a lot of time to think about that," he said - but admitted he has two names in mind for the No. 1 selection.
One is Moala Tautuaa, the 6-7 Fil-Tongan who no doubt will be the best big man in the pool. The other is Troy Rosario, a late-blooming former volleyball player whose stock has considerably risen after winning a UAAP championship with National University and a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
"Dalawa lang naman 'yan," Uchico, winner of nine league championships, said. "But they're two different players."
He admitted the center position is one area Talk 'N Text needs to improve on, the reason Tautuaa will be high on his list. The TnT coach admitted he has seen little of the former ABL import, his knowledge of Tautuaa limited to a few replays of D-League games he caught on television.
"He's the biggest guy out there, and he's athletic," said Uichico, adding "maybe he can fill the (center spot) for us."
But then again, Uichico pointed out that "the D-League is different from the PBA."
Uchico, however, pointed out that he is not looking beyond Rosario. He in fact raved about the much-improved former Bulldog who he said "can rebound, put the ball on the floor, and shoot very well."
"There are a lot of upsides to Rosario," he said.
Pundits do not see the No. 1 selection going beyond Tautuaa and Rosario, but Uichico pointed out the dynamics of the August 23 proceedings can still change dramatically if two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks decides to put his name in the pool.
The son of PBA great Bobby Parks has been mum on his plans, but things are bound to clear up beginning on Friday when the NBA rookie draft. Parks has attended the training camp of several teams, and the next few weeks will see if he can realize his and his dad's dream to play in the NBA.
But if Parks decides to change course and apply for the PBA draft instead, Uichico admitted the decision is bound to become harder for Talk 'N Text.
"You have to take that into consideration," he said, pointing out that Parks is a talented player who can play the one, two and three positions. "Mapapaisip ka rin."
So who will it be between the three? Uichico smiled.
"As I said, we have a lot of time to think about it," the Talk 'N Text coach said.