JONG Uichico makes his coaching debut for Talk ‘N Text without two of his top veterans.
Already without guard Jimmy Alapag, the Tropang Texters will also find themselves without forward Ranidel de Ocampo when they face Barangay Ginebra Kings in Sunday’s main game kicking off the 40th season of the PBA at the Philippine Arena.
De Ocampo only joined the team in practice on Tuesday after taking a weeklong break since arriving from Incheon, South Korea as part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that saw action in the 17th Asian Games.
The limited time De Ocampo practiced with the team may force Uichico to sit him out in the match against the Kings set at 5 p.m.
“I don’t think I will let him (De Ocampo) play even if he’s ready. Kasi kaka-practice niya lang, he needs to have a week or two more to get in shape before he can play,” Uichico told Spin.ph.
Alapag will also miss the opener of the Philippine Cup after being given a three-week break to get himself recharged following a grueling stint with Gilas Pilipinas.
Despite the absence of both key players, Uichico tries to look at the positive side of playing the Kings without the two Gilas stalwarts.
“But if you think of it positively, mas maganda pa rin yung ganun, na may bago pang players na puwedeng pumasok later in the conference,” said the veteran coach.
At this point, Uichico recognizes the Tropang Texters are a team in transition to start the brand new season owing to several offseason acquisitions led by Jay Washington and rookies Matt Rosser Ganuelas and Kevin Alas.
The 52-year-old Uichico himself is coming from a tiring coaching stint with Gilas, serving as one of national coach Chot Reyes’ deputies.
The eight-time champion coach admitted he’s also still feeling his way with the Tropang Texters, having assumed the post only two weeks ago.
“Iyun ang feeling-out period, like what they (new acquisitions) can give and how they can contribute to the team concept, so we’ll see how we can make our offense more efficient,” he added.