A total of 42 championships with tons of coaching experience in international basketball.
This sums up the brain trust of Gilas Pilipinas with head coach Chot Reyes, a nine-time Philippine Basketball Association champion, backstopped by Tim Cone and Jong Uichico.
Cone, the winningest coach in PBA history with 24 titles to his name and the only mentor to win a grand slam with two different ballclubs, has reunited with Reyes after working together nearly a decade ago.
An upcoming coach in the professional ranks back then, Cone hired as one of his early assistants a young tactician in Reyes, his former rival in inter-Village basketball tournaments in Dasmariñas, Makati.
Together, Cone and Reyes steered Alaska to its first PBA championship in 1991.
In 1993, Reyes earned his first head coaching job at Purefoods and had, since then, forged some kind of friendly rivalry with Cone, culminating in half a dozen title clashes with their head-to-head at 3-3.
Amid the competition, however, was born a strong bond between the two coaches, on and off the court.
When Cone was named head coach of the Centennial Team in 1998, he brought in Reyes to become his assistant coach.
Reyes, in turn, placed a call post haste to Cone when the national team came calling soon after.
“Chot and I worked together for many years, with Alaska and the Centennial Team together and then back when he was national coach in the mid-2000s,” Cone said.
“Our wives are best friends and they work together in their own business. The connection is really strong between Chot and I.”
The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach is also thrilled to work with Uichico, who led the Kings to a couple of championships in the mid-2000s.
Six years removed from coaching in the PBA, Uichico spent the past few years working as head of the Basketball Coaches Commission of the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas.
He spearheads the group that educates aspiring coaches, referees and technical officials at the grassroots level.
He, however, has always made himself available for flag and country once summoned.
Cone has fond memories of working with Uichico not too long ago.
“I got the opportunity to work with Jong during the Southeast Asian Games three years ago. I’ve always watched Jong from afar and he’s a Ron Jacobs protege and Ron was the absolute legend,” Cone said.
“He’s almost like a god in basketball. Getting to know Jong kinda lets me see what Ron used to do. I’m really fortunate to know both of them.”
“A lot of people think I’m the old guy and everybody’s learning from me, but no, I’m the one learning from them, truly.”
Before his last coaching stint at TNT, Uichico was one of the most successful coaches in the PBA.
He won nine championships overall, capturing multiple titles as coach of San Miguel Beer, Ginebra, and, of course, TNT in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup.
Now Uichico has come full circle in serving the national team — as a player, an assistant and as head coach.
As part of the Gilas coaching staff for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, Uichico has immersed himself into whatever role he gets assigned to.
“There’s really no designated specific roles in the Gilas coaching staff. It just comes,” Uichico said.