After word of Siot Tanquingcen’s demotion from head coach to assistant at Ginebra leaked out, guess who was the first person to call him?
Who else but longtime friend Jong Uichico.
“I called him up right away, and told him hopefully something good comes out of this situation for you and your family,” said Uichico, a day after his former assistant and co-coach was asked to slide down to an assistant role to give way to new Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua.
It was not the first time Tanquingcen has been demoted to an assistant role in his long years with the San Miguel organization. In fact he was asked to give way to Uichico himself when the latter moved from San Miguel (now Petron) to Ginebra in 2006.
Uichico lamented that the constant demotions are a blow to a coach’s morale and confidence.
“Syempre, hindi ko rin alam ang sasabihin ko sa kanya. What can you say to uplift a person’s spirit after being brought up and down several times,” said Uichico, who quit the SMC organization last season after his ‘demotion’ from head coach to co-coach with Tanquingcen at Ginebra.
“Ang hirap din ng ganun, akyat baba ka sa pwesto mo … mawawala kumpiyansa mo nun,” Uichico added. “Ilang beses na di ba? ang hirap tanggapan lang niyan. Kahit sabihing trabaho natin ito. Masakit tanggapin yun.”
Uichico, now a coaching consultant for Meralco and coach of Smart Gilas 2.0’s cadet team, also came to the defense of Tanquingcen, who has come under criticism from fans in the three-plus years that Ginebra has gone without a championship.
He pointed out that the former University of Santo Tomas Tiger has three PBA titles to his name and is one of the hardest-working coaches in the pro league.
“Alam natin na Siot performed to management’s expectations. Hindi naman siya basta-bastang coach,” said Uichico. “Masipag iyan. Hindi natutulog iyan kaka-review ng tape. Masipag pa nga sa akin yan.
“Mabait si Siot. Hindi ko malimutan dyan was when I was moved to Ginebra, more than willing siya nun to step down.”