TNT coach Jong Uichico was very emotional upon receiving the news the great coach Ron Jacobs passed away right on Christmas Eve Thursday.
More than a teacher and mentor, Uichico considers Jacobs a father figure.
“Coach Ron is like a father to me,” said the soft-spoken coach when asked how he remembered the man who, in the 80s, revolutionized the way the game is played in this country where basketball is considered a religion.
“He’s a good and caring friend.”
Jacobs died three days before he would have turned 73. The former national coach and San Miguel Beer mentor has long been bedridden since suffering a massive stroke while in the midst of preparing the Philippine squad for the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.
As Jacobs’ top deputy with the Beermen and later, with the Philippine men’s team, Uichico admitted the former Loyola Marymount coach had a huge impact on him and shaped him to what he is today.
“He has been a great influence in my career and for that, I am very grateful,” said the nine-time champion mentor, who’s been named Coach of the Year twice by the PBA Press Corps.
It was Uichico who inherited the San Miguel team assembled and nurtured by Jacobs which went on to win six championships from 1999 to 2005.
A huge part of that Beermen squad was Olsen Racela, now the Barangay Ginebra deputy coach, who Jacobs tried to mold as then San Miguel’s modern version of Hector Calma.
Racela also paid tribute to his late coach on his twitter account@thebigOls.
“Thank you for believing in me. I will forever be grateful,” he said.
Just like San Miguel, the same thing happened with the national squad for the Busan Asiad which Jacobs had to hand over to Uichico following that near-fatal heart attack just before Christmas of 2001.
The Filipinos though, failed to get the job done after they lost to host South Korea in the semifinals behind the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer of gunner Lee Sang Min.
Ironically, Racela was also part of the team which went on to finish fourth place after losing to Kazakhstan in the battle for the bronze medal.
Also paying his last respect to Jacobs is Fil-Am Danny Seigle, the explosive power forward who Jacobs recruited to be part of the PH team to the Busan Asiad, but unfortunately, suffered a torn Achilles tendon a few days before the national squad was to depart for South Korea.
“I owe so much to one of d best coaches ever. His knowledge & passion for d game were remarkable - a true pioneer. RIP Coach Ron. I’ll miss u,” tweeted Seigle on his account @dannyseigle42.
Seigle arrived at San Miguel on the first season Uichico took over the coaching reins from Jacobs.