Ginebra faces former coach Jong Uichico as Kings battle Talk 'N Text in PBA opener
Jong Uichico will be without Gilas stars Ranidel de Ocampo and Jimmy Alapag in his Talk 'N Text coaching debut. Jerome Ascano

AN intact Barangay Ginebra hopes to start the new season with a bang when it sees action in the main game of a double-header ushering in the 40thseason of the PBA at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on Sunday.

But a very familiar face await the Kings in the 5 p.m. game.

Talk `N Text plays its first game under former Ginebra coach Jong Uichico, who will not have Gilas Pilipinas stalwarts Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel de Ocampo around in his debut.

De Ocampo only joined the team’s practice early last week, but won’t be playing according to Uichico, while Alapag is expected to miss the first two games of the Tropang Texters as he is still on leave with the franchise.

Uichico was the last coach to steer the Kings to a championship during the 2008 Fiesta Conference.

In contrast, the Kings will parade new acquisitions in veteran guard Joseph Yeo and energetic rookie forward Rodney Brondial to complement resident stars Mark Caguioa, LA Tenorio, Greg Slaughter, and Japeth Aguilar.

More than the personnel, Ginebra coach Jeffrey Cariaso said he has spent the offseason working more on the basics of their offense and defense.

“As long as we continue working hard, I feel the wins will follow,” Cariaso said. “But it starts with the little things, but as far as understanding what we’re doing, we still have to work on it a little more.”

Although Ginebra had a less than stellar preseason performance after losing to Barako Bull and Davao’s local Goldstar team during last month’s Visayas pocket tournament, Cariaso emphasized the wins during the regular season are the ones that really matter.

“I told them before, and I mean this, it’s not about the wins and the losses right now (in the preseason). It’s not because it doesn’t count right now, but obviously when the season starts, it’s gonna be about that (winning games). Now, it’s about getting better,” explained the 42-year-old Ginebra coach.

On the other hand, Uichico said he expects a rough start for the Tropang Texters, who were “reloaded” the past two weeks with the addition of veteran forward Jay Washington along with rookies Matt Rosser Ganuelas and Kevin Alas via separate trades.

“I’m feeling everything out,” Uichico said. “Siyempre, may mga bago kaming mga players, so I’m trying to get them together and see the best combination, who plays well and it will take some time.”


Uichico admits he’s also trying to install his own system in the Tropang Texters, considering that he’s joined the team only two weeks ago after a stint as assistant coach with Gilas Pilipinas during the offseason.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava