MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 2) The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) on Thursday said it is currently searching for a new coach and a new Gilas Pilipinas team as it announced the selection of a formation committee that will oversee the assembly of the next national basketball squad.
The announcement effectively "disbanded" the national team that finished second in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and removed Chot Reyes as national team coach.
In a statement, the SBP said its president, Manny V. Pangilinan, proposed a “participative and consultative approach” in the initial selection process for future national teams to address at least nine international tournaments scheduled for 2015.
“Elite tournaments like the FIBA Asia Qualifying, World Cup, Asian Games, which involve PBA players, will go through the committee composed of SBP Board members from the PBA, PBA D-League and the SBP,” it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a screening-selection committee composed of SBP board members representing the UAAP, NCAA, CESAFI, NAASCU and the SBP, through executive director Sonny Barrios, will oversee the team selection not involving PBA players.
Among the key tournaments SBP is preparing for are the 28th Southeast Asian Games in June 2015 and the 28th FIBA Asia Championship in China in August 2015. The FIBA Asia tilt will serve as the regional qualifier to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The committees, according to the SBP, will short-list candidates for players and coach for submission to the SBP Executive Committee made up of the SBP chairman, president, vice chairman, vice president and executive director “for ultimate final approval" of the SBP Board of Trustees.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud said he has met with Pangilinan on Tuesday and relayed the comments and inputs of all the PBA team owners regarding Gilas Pilipinas, which after a superb performance in the FIBA Asia and FIBA Worlds nosedived to the Philippines’ seventh place finish in the Asian Games -- an all-time worst.
“These comments and sentiments were received openly by Mr. Pangilinan, and during last Tuesday’s SBP Board of Trustees meeting, in response to the comments and suggestions made by the PBA team owners, the SBP has approved the creation of a committee tasked to select the head coach of the national team and players from the PBA that would form the national pool,” Salud said in a statement.
Gilas program stays, says Salud
But the PBA chief later clarified that the SBP is not dissolving the Gilas program but is instead reinforcing it by synchronizing the league’s calendar with the national team’s training schedule.
Salud said they aim to fine-tune the program through a stronger collaborative effort between SBP, PBA and other stakeholders.
“The SBP is not dissolving or discontinuing the Gilas Program. It is a successful program that has the PBA's full support,” he said in a succeeding statement.
“The objective of the Selection Committee is clear: to consolidate the gains of the existing program and to chart a strategic course to improve current performance. This process will adopt a systematic, methodical and inclusive approach to ensure that Philippine basketball becomes more competitive internationally both in the short and long term.”
Reyes’ tenure as national coach began in 2012 when he replaced Serbian coach Rajko Toroman. He led the nationals to victory in the 2012 William Jones Cup title before steering it to a second-place finish in the 2013 FIBA-Asia championship.
But his leadership came under fire after Gilas’ uncharacteristic finish in the Asiad. Local fans practically asked for his head after Gilas suffered crucial defeats against South Korea, Qatar and China.
Among his biggest critics is PBA legend Ramon Fernandez, who lashed at Reyes’ coaching style.
“Doon sa ginawa niya sa pinashoot niya sa kalaban, that's the lowest you can go,” Fernandez said referring to the own goal tactic used by Gilas against Kazakhstan in the Asiad.
Fernandez also took notice at how Reyes publicly criticized naturalized player Marcus Douthit after an off-night performance against Qatar.
"Okay lang sa loob ng laro sigawan mo ang player 'O takbo' pero huwag mo namang iinsultuhin in front of the press," he said.
Reyes said in an earlier report that he will leave it up to SBP and the PBA to decide on his future.
"I serve at the pleasure of the SBP, our chairman, and the PBA board. It's up to them. I will abide by whatever they decide on," he said at the time.