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TNT cramming under Uichico

JONG UichicoOn paper, Talk ’N Text – without a doubt – remains one of the strong teams in the PBA 40th Season beginning with the Philippine Cup on Sunday.

However, new Talk ’N Text mentor Jong Uichico has low expectations with the Tropang Texters since he just joined the team only recently after his duties as part of the national team coaching staff.

“We’re cramming everything, cramming with our practice time with TNT,” said Uichico after the team’s practice session held at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside Ateneo campus in Katipunan, Quezon City.

“I just got back from the national team. But So far so good, little by little we’re getting there. We’ll not come together right away. Hopefully in due time, as the conference goes on,” added Uichico.

Uichico, an eight-time champion coach, is back as head coach after two seasons. A season ago, he served as one of the assistant coaches in the Meralco staff under then mentor Ryan Gregorio. Uichico captured his first six PBA championships with San Miguel Beer, and powered Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to two titles – the last was during the 2008 Fiesta Cup.

Being in the professional league as coach since 1998, Uichico understands that adjustment period will take some time as he tries to get accustomed to the players of Talk ’N Text.

“It’s like feeling them out, feel their reception to you. Also, you try to know their style of play, where they are comfortable with playing certain spots. But I’d like to improve as the practice games go on, and as the games goes on. That’s the time I can say what is our target,” said Uichico

“But certainly, we have players that can play. It’s just that my goal, under the new system, is that they play together as a team. That’s what I’m trying to sell. There is actually little adjustment, I can’t do drastic as this time.”

“Where the players are comfortable, where they are strong, that’s what will take advantage. Then we’ll go from there,” added Uichico, who absorbed a team that has Jimmy Alapag, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jayson Castro, Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes, Larry Fonacier and returning Jay Washington (obtained in a trade with Globalport).

Talk ’N Text also has in its fold two rookies in Kevin Alas and Matt Ganuelas, acquired in separate three-team deals from new PBA member and sister company North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

The 6-foot-1 Alas and the 6-foot-5 Ganuelas, the second and fourth overall picks during the previous PBA Rookie Draft, will have their playing time but Uichico said there is no pressure for the two to deliver big numbers right away.

“I’m not hurrying them up. I’ll give them there time, but there is no pressure for them,” said Uichico.