No other PBA coach knows Mick Pennisi more than Yeng Guiao.
The two spent eight years together at Red Bull from 2000 to 2008 where their partnership produced three championships.
Guiao also tapped the sweet-shooting big man as part of the Powerade Pilipinas national team which he coached in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship.
As Pennisi decided to retire after 17 seasons, Guiao had nothing but good words for the 6’11” Filipino-Australian.
“There must be a good reason why Mick Pennisi played in the PBA for 17 years. He’s probably one of the few big men who can shoot from the outside. This means Mick is a multi-skilled player,” Guiao told InterAksyon.
“I was even being criticized before for letting Mick shoot a lot from the outside. But that’s just one of the few good facets of his game. If Dirk Nowitzki, a big man in the NBA, can shoot from the outside, why not Mick, who is probably one of the most consistent shooting big men ever?”
Guiao also recounted the memories of their national team stint where Pennisi and Asi Taulava were the squad’s main big men.
“Not only that, Mick is also a decent post defender and that’s one of the reasons why I selected him to play for the national team in 2009. He and Asi were our bigs and were able to hold the forth in the absence of a naturalized player,” said Guiao who also remembers Pennisi as a “funny guy”.
“He’s one of the funny guys in the team. He provides comic relief,” the coach said.
But there were some dark episodes too in Pennisi’s career. In 2006, he fell hard on Eugene Tejada during a game, leading to a career-ending injury for the former Purefoods player.
Tejada was forced to quit PBA after suffering a spinal cord injury which paralyzed him from waist down.
Not known to many, Pennisi, who was criticized by some fans, was deeply affected by the incident.
“Mick had difficulty moving on after the incident. But in reality, Mick had no evil intent. It was an accident,” Guiao said.
“People who knew Mick would see him not just a role model inside the court, but outside the court as well. He’s a loving father and husband.”