A luckless campaign in an international tournament has ended the tenure — yet again — of another national team head coach.
Gilas Pilipinas went home early this week from China after failing to score a win and placing dead last in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Blanked in pool play by Italy, Serbia and Angola, the tailspin continued in the classification phase for the Philippine men’s team following blowout losses to Tunisia and Iran.
Losing all their five matches in the 32-team joust, changes and reforms were expected to be in place for the country’s basketball program. Within days after their arrival, a shocking development from the Gilas camp came out: Yeng Guiao has decided to step down as head coach of the squad.
The successor of Chot Reyes, Guiao was appointed to the post in September 2018 prior to the fourth window of the World Cup Asian qualifiers. Under the tutelage of the seven-time PBA champion coach, Gilas Pilipinas – by virtue of being the best fourth placed team — claimed one of the seven tickets allotted for Asia-Oceania to the world championship.
But after the national team’s dismal performance in the 18th edition of the World Cup, Guiao has decided to call it quits.
With international competitions up ahead for Gilas Pilipinas, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has now the unenviable task of finding the replacement for Guiao.
Who are in line for this job?
FOX Sports Philippines lists down the possible coaching candidates:
Thrice a PBA champion, Gregorio was once appointed as lead scout for the national team during their stint in the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. “Coach RG”, who is also the Special Assistant to SBP President Al Panlilio since August 2018, is known for his in-depth knowledge, documented on videos and scouting reports, on the past opponents of Gilas Pilipinas.
Why not go back with the guy who was there in the beginning? In 2009, Gilas 1.0 was launched with the SBP’s goal of forming a squad that can nail the much-coveted spot for the 2012 London Olympics and overall, to improve the national program. Toroman took on the role of mentoring a team made up of collegiate standouts and recruits abroad, alongside naturalized center Marcus Douthit. Also a former coach for the national teams of Iran and Jordan, the 64-year-old Serbian mentor is currently at the helm for Indonesia.
The winningest coach in PBA history may be considered for another shot for head coaching role for the national team. Cone, who has 21 PBA titles across his name, handled the Philippine five in 1998 – then known as the Centennial Team – in the Bangkok Asian Games. With a star-studded roster, the Philippines placed third in the said competition – a feat that has yet to be matched after five stagings of the quadrennial meet.
A name regularly thrown in conversations about the top coaching post for the national team is Tab Baldwin. A two-time UAAP champion coach with the Ateneo De Manila Blue Eagles, the 61-year-old tactician actually handled Gilas Pilipinas in the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup – finishing second – and in the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Manila. With coaching stints in Malaysia, Lebanon and Jordan, Baldwin was known for leading New Zealand in a surprise semifinal run in the 2002 FIBA World Championship.