MANILA, Philippines -- Yeng Guiao supports the assertion of former Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes that the national team will be better off with a homegrown mentor rather than a foreign one -- with a caveat.
"I think to me, that's really viable," Guiao said, when asked during an online coaching seminar if he believes that the national team is better off with a homegrown coach.
"I think we can stand up with the best coaches in the world," he added.
Guiao was tapped as the head coach of the Philippine national team in 2018, replacing Reyes. He went on to steer the team to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, but Gilas Pilipinas failed to win a single game in China.
He resigned from his post after the World Cup, and since then, the position has been in flux. Tim Cone called the shots for the team when it competed in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, winning a gold medal on home soil. TNT's active consultant, Mark Dickel, was named interim coach for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
Up to now, however, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to name an official head coach.
Reyes has made his position on the matter clear -- he believes that a Filipino coach will relate to the Gilas players better. "We don’t need a foreign coach. We’ve tried it before," he said.
Guiao, for his part, has no doubt that a Filipino coach can get the job done.
"But of course," he quickly added, "We still need to upgrade our skills. We still need to immerse ourself, as I said, before playing the best European teams."
Guiao believes that whoever coaches Gilas Pilipinas will have to be fully immersed in the FIBA style of basketball -- that is, playing a 40-minute game using FIBA rules, and not those of the PBA's.
"Euro basketball is FIBA basketball," he expressed. "They design it that way. That's why the most successful teams in FIBA are the European teams."
There were several factors working against Guiao when he coached Gilas for the FIBA World Cup. For one thing, he barely had time to prepare with the full team -- the squad only became complete with a couple of weeks to go before they left for China. For another, he was also attending to his duties as NLEX head coach even while spearheading the national team's practices.
Guiao said that if Gilas will have a full-time coach, then it should also have full-time players.
"Even if the coach is coaching full-time, and the players are not full-time, it's the same thing. It's the same thing, actually," said Guiao. "If you can have full-time coaches and full-time players, then that would be the best arrangement."
This, however, will require plenty of sacrifices from several sectors, most notably the PBA. This is because Guiao believes that the bulk of the national team should still come from the league, where the best players in the country see action.
Guio suggests that the PBA can shift to a one-conference format during a World Cup year or an Olympic year to give the national team more time to prepare and be together, or a two-conference campaign during the Asian Games.
But he knows that whatever decision is made by the SBP and the PBA, it will inevitably entail sacrifices from the players, the coaches, and the teams.
"You cannot really go full-time with a full-time coach, not unless you have full-time players also," he stressed. "So it's really to me, even if you have a full-time coach but the players are not full-time, you cannot take advantage of being together."
"Because the professional teams are still going to be holding on to their players because they also have their own objectives and goals within those teams."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).