Gee Abanilla and Jong Uichico aren’t headed back to Taft… yet.
In separate telephone interviews with InterAKTV, the Petron Blaze assistant coach and the Barangay Ginebra co-coach quickly dismissed reports that they will be taking over the coaching staff of the De La Salle Green Archers.
Their denial came amid online reports that Abanilla will be taking over the head coaching spot while Uichico will serve as consultant for the team.
“Walang kumakausap sa akin about it,” Abanilla said, even as he admitted hearing his name in the rumor mill.
Abanilla currently serves as an assistant for Ato Agustin, and had been part of the staffs of coaches Yeng Guiao and Tanquingcen. He took over in a temporary capacity for Guiao at Red Bull in 2007, when Guiao filed a leave of absence to run in the elections. He also took over coaching reins at San Miguel for Tanquingcen, most notably during the finals of the 2010 Fiesta Conference as part of management’s strategy, and for Agustin, at the start of the 2010-11 Philippine Cup while the latter was finishing his commitments with San Sebastian in the NCAA.
Like Abanilla, Uichico has been hearing his name linked to the La Salle job.
“Madami na akong naririnig about it,” he said. “The recent one came from a La Sallian, who asked me about the coaching offer at the time when I was watching the Ateneo-FEU game 1 match.”
Willing to coach La Salle
Uichico also dispelled rumors that he is no longer willing to go back to coaching the Green Archers. He led the La Salle to back-to-back runner-up finishes in 1996 and 1997 before eventually becoming a PBA head coach.
“I am ready to serve La Salle in whatever capacity and there’s no truth to reports that I’m done coaching in college basketball,” said Uichico. “Of course, you have your preferences and one of them is to let younger coaches handling it rather than you.”
“But once you are given an offer, anything can happen. For example, if the school made a formal offer, then we will discuss it and then they will have to let me think about it for the next few days.”
Abanilla, a member of La Salle’s back-to-back championship teams in 1989 and 1990 also expressed his willingness to take the job
“Of course, I will be interested to serve my alma matter,” said Abanilla.
“Yes, I’ve been hearing a lot of things but there’s no official offer yet. Mayroon namang nagsasabi na si Franz [Pumaren] naman daw.”
Bigote back to Taft?
A surprise name that popped up in the rumor mill regarding the La Salle job is that of Pumaren, who led the Green Archers to five titles over his 11-year coaching stint.
But Pumaren signed a three-year contract last August to coach the Shopinas.com Clickers in the PBA. Interestingly, he hired for his staff Jack Santiago and Tonichi Yturri, who recently resigned from their posts as La Salle assistants along with Dindo Pumaren, the La Salle head coach and Franz’s younger brother.
Shopinas.com board representative Sheila Lina, however, quickly dispelled the notion of the elder Pumaren coming back to coach the Archers.
“As far as I’m concerned, no one from DLSU has contacted us regarding this matter,” said Lina.
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