CALAMBA, Laguna - It was 1999 when coach Jong Uichico was assigned as the head coach of the San Miguel Beermen and with the likes of Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle, they quickly built a dynasty in the PBA.
Before their time was through, Ildefonso and Uichico had won six championships together. The former won the Most Valuable Player award in 2000 and 2001 while the latter was named the Coach of the Year in 2000.
Uichico moved on to coach Barangay Ginebra, Meralco, and TNT in the PBA before joining the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas as a Gilas coach and the Program Director of their Coaches' Commission.
With the national team program, Uichico found himself in a familiar situation, working once again with an Ildefonso and helping to mold him to realize his full potential.
"It makes me reminisce about the days with Danny I. Though they're different players, you still feel the same," said Uichico. "Coaching the father before and the son now, I see the similarities between them. It's a great feeling because it feels like coming full circle."
Uichico played a vital role in Ildefonso's career as he'll go down in history as one of the best big men that the PBA has ever seen. However, the coach knew that greatness was in him all along and now he's seeing the same with the second-generation national team player.
"I know Danny I. is a disciplinarian so he raised Dave to be disciplined and hardworking and religious. Dave is a good kid. He's not just a good basketball player but he's a good guy," said the coach.
"He brought up Dave as a great basketball player as a person. They're both talented although Danny I. is more of a post-up player and Dave is more of a perimeter player. They're both good in understanding the game. They read situations well. Danny I. was always early during our practices and he was always lifting weights. He took care of his body well and that's the similarity I see between him and Dave."
For the younger Ildefonso, the stories from his father were more than enough to let him know he'll be in good hands with the Gilas Pilipinas program.
"He told me that coach Jong is an easy-going coach. We really see that he lets the players do their own thing. Even with us in the amateurs, he trusts us, what more for the PBA players he coached before in the late 90s and early 2000s like "Dynamite" Danny (Seigle) and tito Olsen (Racela), and tatay (father)?" Dave said in Filipino. "For us players, it's important that coaches trust us and in turn, we work hard to make sure we repay him for that trust."
Dave is not surprised that his father talks about his stint with the San Miguel Beermen from time to time, not just because of his success there but also because of his close relationship with many members of that squad up to now.
"They've remained close because of all the hardships they went through and the success they achieved. If you win championships, your friendship will really persevere," Dave said.
Even though he is most familiar with Uichico among all the coaches, the older Ildefonso instructed his son to treat all the coaches with the same respect.
"He gave me a general tip in dealing with all the coaches here and not just for coach Jong. He reminded me to be coachable and trust the coaches. As coach Tab (Baldwin) always tells us, collectively our coaching staff has over 200 years of experience in coaching," the young player explained. "It's already being served to us on a silver platter and it would be pretty stupid not to take in what they're teaching us."
Even at Dave's young age, Uichico, the fourth winningest coach in PBA history, has seen enough to say that he may be more talented than his father at this stage of their careers. However, the son was quick to deflect the praise back to his father.
"I think it's because tatay has been guiding me from an early age. He exposed me on how to play basketball the right way. So if coach Jong says that I may be more talented than tatay at this age, the credit goes back to tatay."