Yeng Guiao stepped down as head coach of Gilas Pilipinas, leaving the national basketball program back from scratch.
Two days since returning from a forgettable stint in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, Guiao did a class act of tendering his resignation yesterday to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) after failing to lead the national team to a single victory in five matches.
“I am sorry we could not deliver a better performance. Our players gave their best against talented, bigger, stronger, and better-prepared athletes from the best teams in the world. I truly appreciate their efforts and sacrifices — and that of their families. Our times together will never be erased from my memory,” Guiao said in a statement.
“In the light of all these developments, I am stepping down, as of today, as the head coach of the Gilas men’s basketball team, in order to give the SBP a free hand in building and developing a program towards achieving our objective of competing with the best of the best.”
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve our country through the sport we love most,” he added.
Guiao returned to coaching the national team after Gilas Pilipinas was involved in the infamous Philippine Arena brawl in 2 July last year against Australia in a World Cup qualifying game.
The incident cost the Gilas program as 10 players from the Philippine team were suspended by FIBA that led to the resignation of head coach Chot Reyes.
Under Guiao, the country managed to qualify to this year’s World Cup but the time given to the team to prepare was too short mainly because of the players in pool were still committed with their mother teams in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
“Even if I had known from the beginning that this would be the end result of my decision to accept this coaching job, I would have had no second thoughts in making the same decision. I have no regrets in having taken the path I have taken in the past year; the only regret is that I would have wanted the team to have performed better on the world stage,” Guiao said.
“I take pride in having taken over the Gilas program at a point of crisis, where the team was decimated by the suspension of players and coaches after the Australian incident. From there we put together the team and the program with the support of the SBP, the PBA, and our basketball public, to take fifth place in the Asian Games — our best finish in the last 16 years — with an opportunity to make the finals, except for a loss to China which was decided with one possession. With the help of Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson, we almost achieved the improbable.”
SBP president Al Panlilio accepted the resignation of Guiao.
“It is with a heavy heart that we accept coach Yeng’s resignation as the head coach of Gilas Pilipinas men’s team. The SBP thanks him for his contributions and wishes him well in all his future endeavors,” said Panlilio in a statement.
The ball is now in the hands of the SBP especially that the country has yet to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Japan and will be hosting the 2023 edition of the World Cup.
The names of Ateneo’s Tab Baldwin and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Tim Cone have popped out as possible candidates to replace Guiao, who reiterated the need for a long-term preparation in any international tournament.
Former national mentor Joe Lipa, in a previous interview by Daily Tribune, said SBP needs to call for a meeting among the national coaches and plot the kind of the basketball program that this country needs to be successful in international stage.
The country is expected to slip in the FIBA ranking after its 0-5 campaign in the World Cup. The No. 31-ranked Gilas bowed to No. 4 Serbia, No. 13 Italy, No. 39 Angola, No. 51 Tunisia and No. 27 Iran in the 32-nation tournament.
The Philippines finished dead last in the World Cup and lost by an average of 29.4 points.