Gilas Pilipinas: New Direction and Leadership for Asian Games 2023
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is under pressure to restructure the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball program before the Asian Games begin on September 23 in Hangzhou, China. This comes only three weeks after Gilas’ lone World Cup triumph over China, primarily attributed to naturalized Filipino and NBA star Jordan Clarkson. While this victory gave some solace, the Philippines is still looking for stability and success in basketball after a poor World Cup showing.
Chot Reyes, who has experienced criticism, has stated his wish to step down as head coach of the national team, leaving a critical leadership post empty. The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) initially identified Reyes as the head coach at the Asian Games, but sources say that might change.
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The SBP and PBA have arranged a joint news conference for September 7 to unveil the final roster and new head coach. Tim Cone, the head coach of Barangay Ginebra, who formerly worked as Reyes’ assistant, is one possible contender for the head coach position. Although Cone initially denied any desire to head Gilas, insiders say he is considering it, especially if he can work with players from Barangay Ginebra.
Manny V. Pangilinan and Ramon Ang, patrons of the MVP and SMC organizations, have a good relationship, which might help Cone’s appointment. However, Cone’s employment may not be a long-term commitment, as the SBP is also considering Serbian-Kiwi basketball strategist Nenad Vuini, who has international coaching expertise and has previously worked with the national team.
Another candidate in the mix is Australia’s national team head coach, Brian Goorjian if he becomes available following the dissolution of the Bay Area Dragons and the performance of the Australian squad in the World Cup.
The availability of naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Angelo Kouame on the Gilas team is still being determined, with Kouame contemplating his options. Some of the remaining players in the lineup face obstacles like commitments to overseas leagues or injury.
While notable players such as Clarkson, Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, and Kai Sotto are unlikely to compete in the Asian Games, the SBP is looking at acquiring World Cup standout Rhenz Abando from Anyang KGC of the Korean Basketball League (KBL).
Participation in the Asian Games means yet another financial commitment for the SBP, which has already signed significant deals with Clarkson and Sotto for the World Cup and logistical costs. Notably, certain foreign players, such as Karl-Anthony Towns of the Dominican Republic, represent their country for free.
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) also plays a part in this scenario. A successful performance at the Asian Games by a Gilas squad, including PBA talent, might boost the league’s legitimacy, especially because many of the top-performing Gilas players in the World Cup are now not playing in the PBA.
Finally, the SBP confronts the severe issue of reconstructing the Gilas Pilipinas program in time for the Asian Games, with critical choices on coaching and team makeup to be made. While the team’s makeup is undetermined, gaining the correct leadership and player commitments will be essential to attaining success on the international scene. The PBA’s engagement with Gilas might benefit the league’s reputation and fan base.