By WAYLON GALVEZ
With the resignation of Yeng Guiao as coach of Gilas Pilipinas, the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas will now have to find a replacement as the national team prepares for the Southeast Asian Games here.
SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement that while he respects Guiao’s decision, it was a tough one to consider considering the journey the national team had under the veteran mentor.
“It is with a heavy heart that we accept coach Yeng’s resignation,” said Panlilio Wednesday.
“Coach Yeng Guiao had the unenviable task of picking up the pieces for Gilas Pilipinas Men. Even if the odds were stacked against him from the start, he took on the challenge head on and gave it his best shot.”
Guiao announced his resignation Wednesday, a day after the Philippines arrived from Beijing following the team’s winless campaign in the World Cup.
The national team went 0-3 in the group stage with setbacks to Italy, Serbia and Angola, and 0-2 in the consolation round against Tunisia and Iran.
Guiao started to call the shots for the national team in last year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, and he formally took over as Gilas Pilipinas coach – replacing Chot Reyes – prior to the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers for Asian teams late last year.
Led by Guiao, the Filipinos won against Qatar and Kazakhstan that gave the Philippines its second straight FIBA World Cup slot, a feat celebrated by the entire nation,
Panlilio commended Guiao for his efforts, saying: “His selection to take over was unanimous and it spoke volumes about the respect that he has gained throughout his career from all members of the Philippine basketball community.”
As for who will take over the post Guiao had vacated, two names stand out: Former national team mentors Tab Baldwin and Jong Uichico.
Aside from calling the shots for the Philippines, Baldwin’s resume include a coaching stint with New Zealand, a team he helped to a spot in the 2002 FIBA World Cup in Indianapolis.
He is currently coach of defending UAAP champion Ateneo.
For Uichico, he once mentored the national team in the Asian Games, and served as an assistant to Reyes with Gilas Pilipinas. He is currently the coach of Bataan in the MPBL.
The two are also former coaches of the national team in the SEA Games that won gold medals. Basketball will be played at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City when the country hosts the biennial meet on Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.