MANILA, Philippines – It’s a major surprise that Allan Caidic did not actually start out as a deadshot sniper.
Back in high school, Caidic played center for Roosevelt College in Sumulong, Rizal and was therefore conditioned to operate in the low block.
Another surprise is that Caidic was never recruited by any major college. He may be remembered now for his graceful left-handed shooting form and out-of-this-world accuracy, but the Philippine basketball legend didn’t even start out as a hot recruit.
Caidic spent the summer of 1980 training with Ateneo, but right before classes started, he did not get accepted to the engineering quota course he applied for. He next went to Mapua but was deemed not good enough for the varsity.
An uncle got him to try out for the University of the East where he suffered another rejection and told to just try again the next school year.
Caidic’s goal was to get an athletic scholarship as a way to help his family, but since he was not part of the varsity, he had to shoulder his own tuition fees although he did get his desired engineering course.
“Out of frustration, I stopped playing competitive basketball. I did not even bother joining the school intramurals,” recalled Caidic.
He briefly joined Letran in the second semester of his freshman year. Former PBA player and referee Rudy Hines brought him to Knights coach Larry Albano, who would have teamed up Caidic with Samboy Lim.
Letran, however, did not have an engineering course that time, and this prompted Caidic’s father to move him back to UE so he could continue his college degree and attempt one more time to make the varsity.
Fortunately for Caidic, there was a keen pair of eyes watching when he tried anew to crack the Warriors’ lineup.
Then UE athletics director Baby Dalupan advised coach Roberto Flores: “Kunin mo yung kaliwete (Recruit the left-handed).”
Caidic made the team but had no expectations of being part of the regular rotation until two veterans were dropped from the lineup for academic reasons. That paved the way for Caidic to have one of the most decorated collegiate careers in UAAP history as he won 3 championships and captured the Most Valuable Player award thrice.
After impressive performances in various inter-collegiate competitions and in the ASEAN Schools Championships – his first international exposure – he was handpicked by coach Ron Jacobs for the national pool under the Northern Consolidated Cement (NCC).
The legendary Jacobs was then looking for shooters to fill up the team.
Caidic admitted it was under Jacobs that he truly appreciated the finer aspects of the game.
“I did not really play organized basketball until college,” he said. “With NCC, I learned the science of the game and concepts like team defense, rotation, and knowing one’s role.”
Caidic belied the long-held belief that he underwent some specialized training under Chip Engelland, currently an assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs who was a naturalized player candidate of the national team.
“Wala namang special training. I was just made to understand my role in the team which was to shoot,” Caidic said.
“Ang mindset ko noon was hindi ako gagawa ng bagay ng makakasira sa team. Kung ano ang sasabihin ng coach na rule, yun ang gagawin ko.”
(There was no special training. I was just made to understand my role in the team which was to shoot. My mindset then was I wouldn’t do anything that would badly affect the team. I just did whatever coach asked me to do.)
Caidic, then known as the Gatling Gun, was an integral part of NCC which had an amazing run in 1985.
They won the Jones Cup against a US selection made up of future NBA players in a game where Caidic scored 21 points.
That same team also bagged the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Basketball Championships (now known as FIBA Asia).
Locally, they ruled the PBA Reinforced Conference as the guest squad that swept Manila Beer to become the only amateur squad to win a league championship.
Caidic ended his amateur career by leading the Philippines to a bronze medal in the 1986 Asian Games, the country’s first medal in the sport in 24 years.
The Philippine basketball great revealed he had no secret formula to becoming a deadly shooter. He did put in long hours to sharpen his stroke.
Caidic would put up 400 shots after every practice when he had no games. On game days, he would still shoot 100 shots after practice.
In 1987, Caidic became the top PBA draft pick when he joined a loaded Great Taste franchise. He made the Mythical First Team while winning Rookie of the Year honors.
This also was when the media started calling him the Triggerman, a monicker befitting the man whose long list of accolades ranks among the best in Philippine basketball.
In what still ranks as the most explosive display of offensive prowess in a single game, Caidic – the PBA MVP in 1990 – converted 17 triples on his way to dropping 79 points in a victory in 1991 by his team Presto Tivol over Ginebra.
Presto import Terrance Bailey, when asked after the game if he had seen anyone shoot as good as Caidic, replied “Only Larry Bird, man. Only Larry Bird.”
Even in international competitions, Caidic’s achievements have not been matched. He is the only Filipino two-time Jones Cup champion, and just like Alvin Patrimonio, he played in 4 straight editions of the Asian Games.
Caidic is also the only Filipino to be named to the Asian Mythical Team thrice, aside from landing twice on the best players list in the Asian Games and once in the Asia Cup.
Never known to trumpet his own achievements, Caidic credits his success to the fact that he was taught by the best coaches.
“I was lucky kasi kami lang ata ni Abet Guidaben ang nakapaglaro under all the Grand Slam-winning coaches – Dalupan, Tommy Manotoc, Norman Black, and Tim Cone,” he shared.
(I was lucky because I think it was just me and Abet Guidaben who got to play under all the Grand Slam-winning coaches.)
“I got a lot of pointers from all my coaches and they pushed me to work hard to enhance my game.”
Caidic also learned from both teammates and opponents, but revealed that the one shooter he closely studied and respected was three-time MVP Bogs Adornado.
“I learned from Ron Jacobs to observe the tendencies of players,” he shared. “Bogs would always have two variations of fakes, say a head fake then a ball fake, before shooting. This made him very difficult to defend.”
Aside from Adornado, Caidic also said he would pick Ramon Fernandez, Alvin Patrimonio, Samboy Lim, and Johnny Abarrientos in his all-time starting five.
Caidic, though, identified Dante Gonzalgo and Glenn Capacio as the toughest defenders he encountered.
He said Gonzalgo used his experience and heft to play physical defense, while Capacio knew his game well since they played against each other in college and also wound up as teammates in the national team.
“I would usually be guarded by the opposing team’s enforcer or import,” Caidic pointed out, recalling the times when he had to contend with Bobby Parks and Sean Chambers.
Although retired for two decades, Caidic still occasionally flashes his old form.
In 2015, a 52-year-old Caidic still won a three-point shoot-out, 18-17, over the sweet-shooting Jeff Chan, who was fresh off a stint in the FIBA World Cup.
It was a testament to Caidic’s shooting touch which remains incomparable even in this day and age. The Triggerman, after all, remains the gold standard. – Rappler.com
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