by Ernest Hernandez
After serving as interim coach for the Philippine national team since the Asian Games, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) finally appointed Yeng Guiao as the official head coach.
“The formal appointment came out this morning before the meeting,” said Yeng Guiao after he announced the 20-player pool for the fifth window of the FIBA World Qualifiers.
Guiao’s appointment as Gilas Pilipinas head coach will be until the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China if the team makes the cut.
“It is no longer interim, it is no longer temporary, so hangang sa World Cup. At least, until next year. At least, it is formal now,” he said.
It will be another hat for Yeng Guiao to wear as he is still the head coach of the NLEX Road Warriors. To add to that, he will also seek a political position in 2019.
“I am still with NLEX,” he said. “I’m taking on two coaching jobs at this point and at the same time I’m campaigning at my district.”
The newly appointed Gilas Pilipinas head coach formally gets to work with the national squad starting on November 12. Practices will be held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
With PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial making all the league’s players available for Gilas Pilipinas, Guiao will have no more excuses to form the strongest Philippine contingent for international competitions.
“You know, you feel a little bit of pressure. Dapat malakas itong team na ito,” said Guiao. “Dapat siguro yung Kazakhstan talunin natin. Talunin natin Iran with this team.”
Aside from representing the country, Guiao stressed that the Gilas program today will determine how strong of a league is the PBA and vice-versa.
“Ako naniniwala ako na the strength of the national team is proportional to the strength of the professional league,” said Guiao. “It is going to be a reflection of the PBA. That responsibility will be on our shoulders and we hope to live up to it.”
Gilas Pilipinas will also host a couple of tune-up games against Jordan and Lebanon before facing Kazakhstan and Iran in the fifth window of the FIBA World Qualifiers on November 30 and December 4.