With so much uncertainty surrounding Thailand basketball due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, men’s national team head coach Chris Daleo has decided to fly back home to the United States.
The veteran mentor took to Facebook Thursday evening and announced that he’s about to leave for a while, with the country under lockdown that has subsequently postponed all basketball activities — from pro leagues to NT.
It also didn’t help that the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam later this year got postponed due to the health crisis. The biennial regional meet was supposed to be held from November 21 to December 2 in Hanoi.
“Well, COVID has destroyed another year. Thailand goes to lockdown status. Pro leagues postponed, national team postponed, no starting date in sight,” wrote Daleo in his post.
“I return to USA hopeful for a new beginning. Thank you to Nipondh Chawalitmontien (Basketball Sport Association of Thailand President), thank you Peepat Keethameakin, thank you to all my players.”
It remains unsure, though, if the bench tactician will be asked to come back by the Basketball Sport Association of Thailand (BSAT).
“For me and the BSAT, they were really mad about yesterday. They said they’re gonna re-evaluate things, so I don’t know what that means,” the outspoken Daleo was quoted as saying back then.
The Qualifiers’ third window was actually his return to the helm after missing the previous meet in Bahrain due to travel restrictions. Without him, the team lost both of its matches against a young Gilas Pilipinas by a big margin.
That’s why it pained Daleo so much to see how the Thailand team he built and led to a silver medal finish in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games has regressed with the way it played in the last two ACQs.
Daleo began coaching in Thailand in April 2017 with Hi-Tech City Bangkok. He was then tasked to handle the women’s national team from June 2017 to September 2018, before taking over the men’s side in June 2019.
He is a five-time champion in Thailand’s domestic league while also steering Thailand to no. 99 in the world — up six spots before he handled the program.