Triggerman’s trials

The road wasn’t easy for Allan Caidic, who battled through rejections to become PH’s greatest shooter

By: Musong R. Castillo - Reporter / @MusongINQ - Inquirer.net | April 16,2020 - 09:39 AM

No one dared pull the trigger on this guy for more than two years, as he bounced around from school to school looking for a home where he could play some hoops and get a good education.

Ateneo, Letran and Mapua all turned Allan Caidic down, asking him to wait for another collegiate basketball season because they were already loaded when he came in for a tryout.

No one dared break up the team they already had. No one took to reading the crystal ball with this guy, who would later be known as “The Triggerman”—probably the most prolific local scorer the PBA has ever seen and possibly the best outside gun that ever suited up internationally for the Philippines.

“I’m just lucky, I guess,” Caidic told the Inquirer in Filipino over the phone recently. “I am just so blessed. I really did overcome a lot of trials and learned through all of them.”

It was the ultimate basketball “what if” of the ’80s. If Letran had tabbed the lean lefty, how dominant would the Knights have been with Caidic teaming up with fellow legend and friend Samboy Lim at the Muralla campus in Intramuros?

Unknown to many, Caidic tried out at Letran in 1981 together with two fellow members of the Cainta All-Stars that played the Squires—the school’s high school team—during a town fiesta exhibition that summer.

Get this: He wasn’t the super swingman he eventually became known for. Caidic was a raw center with soft hands, skinny yet willing to bang bodies inside. But at 6-foot-2, very few people trusted him to be strong enough to score underneath—even if he loved doing that.

“That’s the problem I had when I was trying out at Mapua,” he recalled. “They (guards) never gave me the ball. I was very unproductive because of that, and they already had good centers then.”

He doesn’t hold grudges against any of those guards—Bong Ramos, Junel Baculi and Leo Isaac—who were NCAA superstars at that time. They were all better than him.

At least, then.

He also tried out at Ateneo where he was asked to stay in the training team for a year. Caidic spent more than a month in Katipunan, but the itch to play had him crossing paths with University of the East.

But even the Warriors didn’t see initially the potential legend banging on their gym doors. He was also told to wait for another year because the team was already filled up. They even asked him to play a season in the intramurals to “get better.”

“I knew that I was better than all of those players [in the intramurals] and I knew that I could play in the UAAP,” Caidic said.

So he went to Letran in the NCAA, where Larry Albano, a champion high school and senior coach, asked him to wait for the next season. Letran was the only school that guaranteed he would play the following year.

The “Skywalker” and “The Triggerman” would have bannered a super Letran team in the next years. But Caidic thought about the hardships that his father went through just to get him enrolled in the first semester at UE.

“My father had to borrow money to pay for my first semester’s tuition,” Caidic said. “And in those days, enrolling for an engineering course was already expensive.”

He went back to UE and pondered on quitting the game rather than play intrams ball.

“I was very determined to just complete my degree and forget basketball.”

He did. But not totally.

A scholarship offer the following summer changed his mind. The UE coaching staff welcomed him back but dunked him on the de facto “training team” together with another lefty who would be another UE great: Jaime Mariquit.

“We were the 13th and 14th men,” he said. 

Caidic and Mariquit, however, were beneficiaries of the UAAP’s stringent “policing activities” in the offseason. Two UE veterans were found ineligible by the board, which forced Warriors coach Bert Flores to put the both of them on the regular roster just a few weeks before the season.

“So when I got in, I told myself that I am here to stay,” Caidic said. “I used all the things I learned [at Mapua, Ateneo and Letran] to be able to become a better player [at UE]. I put all the lessons of the coaches there to heart.”

“The rest is history, as they say.”

This is how history reads: Caidic led UE to three championships before truly stamping his class with the Philippine Five and later on in the PBA.

The numbers he left behind are mind-boggling—he still owns the PBA’s highest one-game output by a local with 79 points and 17 triples. But his spot among the greats was cemented by an unshakeable legacy.

Every great shooter that suited up for the national team or set foot in the PBA is inevitably compared to Caidic. And all of them fell short. Will continue to fall short in the foreseeable future.

He is still mentioned as the solution to the national team’s woes internationally, even if he is already in his mid-50s.

And it is a legend born from a determination to make sure he had, at the very least, a shot at greatness.

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TAGS: Allan Caidic, basketball, sports, triggerman

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