PBA legend Allan Caidic talked with ESPN5.com's Charlie Cuna, Sid Ventura and Noel Zarate on a recent episode of An Eternity of Basketball about his playing career. This article covers what he said about his amateur playing days with the UE Red Warriors, the NCC team, and the 1986 Asian Games bronze medal-winning national team.
Entering college, Allan Caidic was nowhere close to being the legendary long-range marksman he would eventually turn about to be in the PBA.
In fact, his game back then was tailored to get him baskets much, much closer to the basket. "During my high school years, I was taller than most of my batch mates (at 6'1") so I played center. When I graduated from high school (at Roosevelt College) in 1980, I tried out for different schools and found that I was out of position. I saw that the centers stood at 6'4, 6'5," he said in Filipino. "That's when I knew I'd have to make a transition to the forward slot."
An opportunity provided by fabled coach Baby Dalupan, who was then the athletics director for the University of the East, would later put Caidic in an environment he needed to build what would eventually be his most lethal weapon in his arsenal yet -- an ordeal he thinks was made easier by good genes.
"It just came through practice and determination. I also probably inherited my father's shooting stroke. He had a good touch from the perimeter," he said of his shot. "I watched him in our province in Laguna. He was famous around there, though he didn't play in college and looked for a job immediately after high school."
Caidic said he'd launch 400 shots a day in practices when he arrived in college -- "When I was a bit tired, I'd do 100" -- and when the three-point line was introduced in international play in 1984, he felt right at home.
"I only became more aware of the existence of a line. But apparently, that was already the range I'd been shooting at before. I was already used to it, and I immediately felt confident hoisting them up," he explained.
That shot would only propel him to greater heights later on.
That fabled NCC team
Before earning a spot on the Northern Cement-backed national team under legendary coach Ron Jacobs, Caidic had to prove himself elsewhere first.
Caidic would have three UAAP titles and two Most Valuable Player Awards at the end of a storied collegiate career in 1985, but by that time he had already become a fixture in international tournaments for the Philippines.
His first international call-up came in 1982, where he was tapped by coach Larry Albano to play with a Letran core that bagged gold for the country in the ASEAN School Youth Basketball Championships. A year later, Caidic was included in a selection of players under a Development Bank of Rizal team that won bronze in an invitational tournament in Malaysia.
These fruitful stints would eventually pave the way for his entry into the NCC's Team B, which was coached by Derick Pumaren and composed of the likes of Pido Jarencio, Leo Austria, Bong Ramos, Peter Aguilar, Jerry Codiñera and Jeffrey Graves, among others. While the A-team competed in the Asian Interclub Championship, Caidic and the others played as a guest team in the 1984 PBA third conference.
"That was the first time I played (big PBA teams). We even played against Crispa. They'd really leave you staring in awe -- we'd only watch these guys on TV before and then suddenly, we were playing against them. It was a great experience for me. I gained a lot of experience and confidence," Caidic said.
As luck would have it, Caidic eventually found his way into the main team. When that squad returned after winning the Interclub title in Malaysia, NCC head honchos found that only two naturalized players -- Jeff Moore and Dennis Still -- could be fielded and that Chip Engelland, famed shot doctor and currently an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, would leave a void in the roster.
'Ron Jacobs was a disciplinarian'
Allan Caidic talks about playing for the legendary Ron Jacobs.
"That open slot was my way of making coach Ron's team," said Caidic. "They tried for a bit early in 1985 to include Chip in the lineup and I was in the pool just in case Chip didn't qualify. So right away, I already knew the system."
When Engelland's ineligibility became final, Caidic's spot in the NCC team bound for the 1985 FIBA World Interclub in Girona, Spain was also officially secured. NCC placed seventh out of 10 teams there, but the invaluable experience of facing NBA talents along the way made the ride all worth it.
"We played against Drazen Petrovic, Chuck Person, David Robinson, Dell Curry and a handful of others. When we got back to the Philippines, we felt superior because we played and guarded bigger, better opponents abroad. It really built our confidence," he shared.
That confidence manifested itself in their return and entry into the PBA, where as a guest amateur team they swept Manila Beer in a four-game finals series to capture the crown in the 1985 third conference.
The NCC under Ron Jacobs
Caidic acknowledged the culture shock he experienced as an amateur joining the NCC for the first time.
"We had huge quarters, we had great food. But it was embedded in our minds that our job there was to practice, play basketball, rest and prepare ourselves. You could really see that we were really well-prepared physically, mentally. The toughness was there. All our needs were supported. You could see right from the start," he said.
Players followed a strict schedule: everyone would wake up together in the morning to jog and eat breakfast before training at 10 a.m. The college players would then head over to their respective schools for classes and go to practice before 5 p.m. for scrimmages that would run from 6-8 p.m. There would only be light workouts in the morning when there were PBA games scheduled, and everyone would ride a coaster together to ULTRA to play.
"You could see that it was really where our bonding was really developed," Caidic noted.
Jacobs ran the ship and made sure everyone and everything under his tutelage and control was in line and tightly-knit together at all times.
"He was a disciplinarian. He was like a father to us. Samboy (Lim) and I were afraid of him," Caidic laughed.
"I remember this instance in the Jones Cup in Taipei. I think we were headed to the playoffs or the semifinals or the finals. Samboy was my roommate, and we'd practice in the morning and eat together for lunch and we'd rest in the afternoon before the evening games. Of course, sometimes we couldn't sleep in the afternoon and we wanted to go out. Samboy and I headed down but when we reached the lobby, coach Ron was hanging around the area. We went back up instead."
Jacobs' strict approach only made his players strive to be the best version of themselves, and Caidic was no exception.
"I was only still just a second stringer (during the 1985 Third Conference), but I saw to it that every time coach put me on the floor, I made sure the I followed every setting, every rule, every play to gain his confidence," he said.
"I didn't care about the score, whether or not we were down or up big. I made sure I did things correctly. That's probably how I earned coach Ron's respect. He must've seen how I didn't care whether or not he'd play me at the end of the game or at the middle of the game," he added. "That's a trait I carried throughout my career."
Caidic and the 1986 Asian Games
Even though Allan Caidic was called for a dubious foul in a semifinal game against South Korea, the Philippines went on to win a "golden bronze" in the 1986 Asian Games.
The 1986 Asian Games team
Caidic and Lim had seen their roles within the NCC offense expand during the 1985 Jones Cup, and the duo retained that status moving forward even after the dissolution of the Northern Cement team after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
A new team coached by Joe Lipa was crafted for that year's Asian Games, and the duo led a new group that was also composed of a young Alvin Patrimonio and Jojo Lastimosa, along with Eric Altamirano, Dindo Pumaren, Ronnie Magsanoc, Harmon and Jerry Codiñera, Jack Tanuan, Elmer Reyes and Glenn Capacio.
"There was no professional jealousy," he said of the team. "There was one goal: to win. Whatever it took. If one had to sacrifice to win, we did it."
The squad was potent enough to reach the semifinals, where they were up against hosts South Korea. A huge rally was mounted by the Filipinos, who trailed by double-digits and pulled within 103-102 in the final seconds, but a crucial and untimely offensive foul was called on Caidic.
To this day, Caidic feels he got a bum call. "That was a sidestep," he says.
It wasn't all tears, though, as the Philippines still managed to salvage a bronze -- its first medal on the continental stage since 1962 -- by beating Jordan in the third-place match.
"It was a missed opportunity," rued Caidic. "It was really painful for us. But the consolation was the golden bronze, the first medal in 24 years in the Asian Games."
The quadrennial showpiece also showed how much international defenses respected Lim and Caidic -- who wore jersey nos. 8 and 9, respectively -- as the latter recalled how teams would chase them around the arc or close off lanes in an effort to slow them down.
"Before the 1986 Asian Games, we joined an invitational tournament in Guam. Korea was also there. Samboy and I were already marked men. We were identified by the Koreans as 8 and 9," explained Caidic.
It was also one of the very first instances where the Koreans gave the Philippines fits due to their impeccable mix of speed and shooting across the board.
"When we faced Korea, anyone could shoot," Caidic observed. "When you faced China, you knew they had big men. You could design a defensive pattern or rotation that could contain them, like double-teaming or forcing them to drive in one direction or to the weakside. But with Korea, you can't sag from their fives because they could shoot. Everybody could shoot.
"When you stayed close, they were fast enough to go around you and make a layup. If you helped, they'd just kick out to the open man. We're used to opponents having three steps on offense, and when all that's contained, they'd just pass the ball out. When you faced Korea, they had many counters and they'd kick out when they saw an open man. It was difficult."
Caidic says the problem is even more emphasized in today's game. "The problem today is that they have bigger guys. So that added to our problems: they have big guys that can shoot and run the floor."