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Jong Uichico on handling Gilas Cadets for ACQ: 'It's a welcome challenge'

From Uichico's Facebook page
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Coach Jong Uichico has been used to coaching professional basketball players in the club and national team ranks.

That is why he sees this opportunity to coach some of today's hottest amateur stars for Gilas Pilipinas Men in the November window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain as a gauge on how well he can handle young guns in international competitions.

"It's a welcome challenge. It's something new, but I always welcome the challenge," said Uichico, who on Thursday was named as the head coach for the Gilas Cadets-bolstered national team.

Handling an all-Cadets lineup is not new to Uichico as he was actually the head coach for Gilas Cadets, then known as Sinag Pilipinas, in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.

However, this is the first time Uichico, a nine-time PBA champion coach, will actually coach the Gilas Cadets in a FIBA-sanctioned event.

The schedule of the November window coupled by the fatigue factor that may arise in the first team mainstays due to the PBA bubble in Angeles prompted the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to summon the Gilas Cadets for the November window.

Despite being apparently hastily built, Uichico assured that the Gilas Men coaching staff, which is also composed of SBP program director for Gilas Men Tab Baldwin and current San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, is doing everything it can to make the team ready for the "Bahrain Bubble".

"We're trying to do the best we can in trying to make them ready for the international game," Uichico, who is leading the SBP's Coaching Academy, further said. "We're trying to keep things as simple as possible--things that they can comprehend and execute the best way they can."

The Gilas Cadets are currently inside a training bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba for the ACQ.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno_

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