MANILA, Philippines -- NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao is not convinced that the current direction of the Philippine national team program is the way to go, going so far as to call it unsustainable.
Currently, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) created a pool of amateur players for Gilas Pilipinas, with the hopes that the players can represent the country in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 that the Philippines is co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia.
Included in the pool are Matt and Mike Nieto, Rey Suerte, Isaac Go, and Allyn Bulanadi, who were selected in a special draft last year and loaned to the national team. They have since been joined by Thirdy Ravena, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, Jaydee Tungcab, and Dwight Ramos.
But Guiao, who called the shots for Gilas in the 2019 World Cup in China, has doubts that such a set-up will work.
"The model we have right now, let's say you're taking players, and you're looking forward to these players just playing for the national team, and they're a separate group and separate from the players who are playing in the pro league, and they are just for the national team's purpose," he said in an episode of "Coaches Unfiltered."
"I don't think that's sustainable," he said.
Much of Guiao's misgivings is because he knows that at some point, the players in the pool will eventually play in the PBA.
"At a certain point, you have to break up that team, and these players are going to play for the pro team, and you wait. It's been done before," he pointed out. "It has not been able to be long-term."
"You can do it for one year or two years, but after that, you're still going to break up, and those guys will still wanna play a regular pro team, be part of a team where they will have a mother team," he added.
Gilas Pilipinas tried the amateur route in the early 2000s, when players like Chris Tiu, Marcio Lassiter, and JVee Casio played for Rajko Toroman. But the team eventually broke up, with the players joining the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft.
Since then, the SBP has relied on the PBA to release players to the national team. This has worked for the country, as evidenced by back-to-back stints in the World Cup, but it has not stopped calls for a "full-time" national team.
This model, said Guiao, would be unprecedented.
"There is no model like that anywhere in the world, that there's a team just for the national team. All of these teams all over the world, they will have to come out of their mother teams and form the national team," he said.
"There is no basketball team, or any other sport actually, maski ano pang sport, all of these are playing pros and then they're being called for the national team. There is no team na, 'O kayo lang ang national team ha, exclusive kayong national team'," he added.
Rather than rely on a team full of amateur and collegiate stars, Guiao said it would be much better if the SBP reaffirms and strengthens its relationship with the PBA, where the best players in the country ply their trade.
This way, the top players will be made available to the national team program.
"I think it's imperative for the SBP or the federation to work hand in hand with the PBA or the professional league. If we're not able to do that, we're not going to be able to send the best players for the toughest tournaments," said Guiao.
"It's imperative for the PBA and the SBP to be able to cooperate and work hand in hand."
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