The common notion in basketball is not every great player can become a great coach. Allan Caidic was arguably the best pure shooter Philippine basketball has ever produced. A league Most Valuable Player at one time, he was the all-time record holder for most three-point shots made until Jimmy Alapag broke the feat.
Caidic was having success playing, winning championships with Great Taste/Presto and the San Miguel Beermen, but didn’t enjoy the same success when he was appointed head coach of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Year 2000.
The closest he could come to winning a championship happened in the 2001 All-Filipino, but he lost to his long-time NCC teammate, Jong Uichico, who was then handling San Miguel Beer, in the finals. Unlike Caidic, Uichico was never considered a star player when they were together playing for the national team.
But Uichico won eight championships throughout his stay in the PBA coaching scene.
Even NBA greats Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had experienced coaching a team.
The two players who elevated the NBA to new heights when they entered the league in 1979 had brief coaching stints. Johnson handled the Lakers during the mid ’90s and wasn’t as successful as he was playing when he immediately won a championship in his rookie season.
Bird did lead the Indiana Pacers to the finals in 2000, but didn’t continue handling the squad after losing to Phil Jackson and the Lakers in the championship round.
There are a lot more great players who was never considered a great coach.
Perhaps, players who spent most of their time on the bench, were the ones turning out to become great coaches.
Siot Tanquingcen was a bench warmer for San Miguel during his playing career in the ’90s, but turned out to be a coaching great, winning several PBA championships.
Turing Valenzona was known more as an enforcer during his playing days, but turned out to become of the all-time best coaches in Philippine basketball.
Then, of course, there’s Tim Cone and Baby Dalupan.
Cone was never good as a player, but emerged as the winningest mentor in PBA history with 19 championships.
The man he surpassed, Dalupan, was also not considered a big-time player, and made his mark more in the coaching scene. The one and only Maestro of local cage scene is considered the all-time winningest coach ever, winning the most championships in the collegiate, amateur and professional basketball combined.
There were a few more great players who turned out to be great coaches.
Norman Black, a two-time PBA Best Import, is the second winningest mentor among active coaches. Like Cone and Dalupan, Black is a member of the grand slam club and he has collected 11 titles.
Ato Agustin, a former PBA MVP, also won a championship in his rookie season as head coach of Petron. Prior to winning a title in the pro league, he also won championships with San Sebastian and Paralux in the now defunct PBL.
Leo Austria, a former Rookie of the Year winner in the PBA, is the hottest coach in the league now, winning five championships in three seasons. He is on the verge of completing a grand slam and his San Miguel Beermen are in a good position to accomplish it in the ongoing Governors’ Cup.
Alapag is trying to become one of the all-time greatest players to join the winner’s club. He was recently named head coach of the Alab Pilipinas and the 5-foot-9 guard is hoping to bring his years of experience and leadership to his new squad.
Will we see the Mighty Mouse living up to the coaching challenge?
Rey Joble has been a sportswriter for years, and has been covering the PBA games for more than a decade. He is a member of the PBA Press Corps and Philippine Sports writers Association, the oldest journalism group in the country.