After a last place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao has stepped down from his post as head coach of the national team.
“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,” Guiao said in a statement released to SPIN.ph.
Despite their limited tune-up games during their build-up to the global meet, Guiao and the national team still had huge expectations on their shoulders, especially after the Philippines’ gallant stand during the 2013 edition of the tournament.
However, the Philippines could not come out with a win in five games, losing their outings by a total of 147 points. And even Guiao was disappointed with the results.
“As regards the past performance of the Gilas Pilipinas Men’s in the recent World Cup, I am as disappointed as the rest of the country. [sic]”
Still, he is grateful to the people who vouched for him, worked with him, and played for him.
I truly and fully appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of all the players; not just those of the recent FIBA World Cup Team, but of all those who have contributed to the program since my appointment as head coach for the 2018 Asian Games,” said Guiao, who replaced Chot Reyes last September.
I would also like to extend my personal thanks to the coaching staff, trainers, utilities and the management of the Gilas Team for their hard work, support, and cooperation.
I’d like to express special gratitude to the PBA Team Owners and Board of Governors led by Chairman Ricky Vargas and Commissioner Willy Marcial; special mention to Boss Ramon Ang and my friend, Al Chua, as well, for the moral and material support they have extended to our team, he continued. “My deep gratitude to Boss Raymund Yu and Boss Terry Que, for keeping their trust in me and endorsing me to coach the Rain or Shine core team in the 2018 Asian Games, which led to my appointment as Head Coach of the Gilas Team.
“Special thanks to Boss Rod Franco, NLEX Management, and the whole team for their understanding and support as I served my country in my capacity as Head Coach of the Gilas Team, thereby diluting my focus and attention from my duties to them. I am now back home in NLEX to fully focus on winning our first championship. Above all, I am most thankful to SBP Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan and SBP President Al Panlilio for the opportunity to have been of service to the country in the sport I love most,” he shared.
“To all fans and friends who wished us well, supported us, and offered their prayers, I am grateful from the bottom of my heart.”
Guiao’s term as full-time head coach of the national team began exactly a year ago.
Back then, Philippine basketball was in shambles in the wake of the Gilas-Australia Boomers brawl that saw numerous players and team officials either fined or suspended.
Still, despite the circumstances, Guiao has no regrets.
“I am truly blessed to have coached the best that Philippine Basketball has to offer and to have competed amongst the best in the world. I consider the past year, most especially our participation in the World Cup, as the highlight of my career,” the multi-time PBA coach said.
“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.”
Prior to taking the job, Guiao was instated as head coach of Gilas for the Asian Games. The hastily-formed squad ended up in fifth place.
“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,” he recalled.
He would then inherit the World Cup squad.
Gilas needed a miracle to make it to the World Cup. After Reyes’ squad ended the first round with a 4-2 slate, Guiao lost three of the next four games entering the final window.
Guiao enlisted Andray Blatche once more for the final window. The naturalized import delivered, taking down the final window to clinch their ticket to China.
“After some struggles and adjustments through three qualifying windows for the FIBA World Cup, we were able to qualify for our second straight World Cup appearance. This was my only promise to our basketball officials and public – that if we were not able to achieve this, I would gladly step down as head coach of the Gilas Program,” he fondly recalled.
“After all the hard work and struggles, the stars aligned for us and the Philippines made it to the top 32 elite teams in the world – and this, only a year after the team was almost decimated by suspensions,” he continued.
“It is in this context that I view my year of leading this program in a positive light.”
Despite the sour outcome, Guiao shared that he will forever look back at this moment with a smile, not with regret over what could have been.
“The efforts and sacrifices of all those involved, overcoming the many trials and tribulations, putting ourselves on the world stage of basketball – I can only wish we could have performed better these past two weeks, but the odds were stacked against us,” he said.
“Nonetheless, I take full responsibility.
“I knew what conditions existed, what the limitations were, and still, I accepted the challenge. I hold myself responsible for the consequences. 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,” he expressed.
“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve our country through the sport we love most. Para sa bayan!”
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