By Jonas Terrado
Becoming the greatest shooter in the history of Philippine basketball seemed like an easy thing to do for Allan Caidic.
But Caidic admitted that his PBA coaching stint with crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra in early 2000 was the hardest task he ever experienced.
“Mahirap, mahirap talaga ang coaching,” Caidic said during a recent webinar organized by Hoop Coaches International and Filoil Flying V Sports. “Siguro coaching is the hardest job in basketball, second to No. 1 being a referee.”
Caidic was handed the keys to take on the arduous task in 1999 of leading Ginebra that was still reeling from the departure of playing-coach Robert Jaworski a year ago.
Using the system he learned from coach Ron Jacobs, his mentor during his Northern Consolidated days and during his final PBA years at San Miguel Beer, Caidic would eventually steer the Kings to a finals berth in the 2001 All-Filipino Conference.
But “The Triggerman” was quick to admit that he was far from ready to take over the demanding job, and it became evident as Ginebra struggled to even compete for playoff berths following that 2001 run.
Caidic also had to learn the trade nearly by himself after Jacobs suffered a stroke while starting to prepare the Philippines’ stint in the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
“Yung transition ko (to coaching), hindi smooth on my part,” he said. “But if you tell me if there’s any consolation on my part is naparating ko kahit papaano ang Ginebra sa finals. Natalo lang kami sa San Miguel, but for me it’s a good consolation lalo na nung nag-uumpisa kang mag-coach.”
Ginebra finished fifth in the eliminations with a 7-7 record, but defeated fourth ranked and twice-to-beat Purefoods in the quarterfinals and top seed Shell in the semis behind the exploits of a rookie named Mark Caguioa, an unheralded third overall pick in the 2001 draft.
But Caidic said the opportunity to make Caguioa shine had some consequences, namely having to balance the minutes of his young rookie and veteran Vergel Meneses.
“Si Vergel, close ko yan, kumpare ko but at one point, nagkaproblema kami dahil rookie year ni Mark Caguioa at mas nabibigyan ng exposure si Mark or equal playing time nila. Medyo nagkakonting tantrums yung isa, so you have to balance it di ba? So mahirap,” he recalled.
Ginebra never got past the quarterfinals since the 2001 All-Filipino. Management eventually replaced Caidic with assistant coach Siot Tanquingcen after a slow start in the 2004 Fiesta Conference.
Moved to a new role as team manager, Caidic watched as Ginebra rediscovered its fine form when needed to capture its first PBA title since Jaworski’s Gordon’s Gin squad in the 1997 Commissioner’s Cup.
Caidic had a short run as Coca-Cola team manager, returned to Ginebra as an assistant and was Juno Sauler’s chief lieutenant during La Salle’s UAAP championship season in 2013.
Over time, Caidic learned the lessons of his Ginebra tenure while also discovering new methods through his subsequent coaching experiences. He has quietly spent the last few years honing the shooting skills of young players, namely Gilas Cadet members Matt and Mike Nieto.
“Let’s face it, may mga kulang talaga ako,” he said. “Modesty aside, nung player ako pag sinabi ng coach ko na kaya mo, nagagawa ko, nakaka-deliver ako. Nung coach na ako, pag tinanong mo yung player ko na ‘Kaya mo ba?’ ‘Yes coach’ tas di niya nagagawa, I easily get frustrated, nawawala yung focus ko at umiinit ulo ko.
“But ngayon ko lang na-realize through the years after coaching and being a team manager and an assistant that to be a successful coach, you have to be a good motivator, communicator and teacher. Hindi porket madali for you, e madali for them. Kailangan i-guide mo sila.
“Magandang experience sa akin yung La Salle kasi na-experience ko kung papaano i-handle mga college players as an assistant coach. Dun ko natutunan yung patience na kailangan ganito, ganito na di kaya lang ng isang araw,” he added.