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Angola head coach Will Voigt reiterates his interest to coach Gilas

by Niel Victor Masoy, January 17, 2020 4:35pm

Will Voigt expressed his interest anew to coach the Philippine national basketball team - Gilas Pilipinas.

“The federation (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) will do the process that they wanted. But hopefully, I get the opportunity to talk to them and present to them how I feel I can help the national team program,” said the 43-year-old Voigt.

Pinoy hoops fans and journalists are familiar to Voigt, of course. That is because the American Voight was the head coach of the Angola national basketball team that beat the Philippines in overtime in the 2019 FIBA World Cup last September.

After that game, Voigt first showed his interest to coach Gilas.

Voigt’s contract with the Angola national team is still good until July this year, but he can opt-out of it whenever he wants, according to a report by Philippine Star’s Quinito Henson last September.

Voigt explained why he’s a fit to coach Gilas, saying he used to coach teams that transition from one phase to another. For him, that’s the situation of the Philippine national basketball team today.

“It’s kind of what I did as a coach is taking situations that are transitioning to something,” he remarked. 

“When I took charge of Nigeria (as a head coach), we had to change the way things were and we ended up winning the first African championship ever,” added Voigt referring to Nigeria’s conquest of the 2015 AfroBasket tourney that gave the country a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Voigt said he’s excited to handle basketball programs that is in the transitional phase. 

In Gilas’ case, SBP already formed a 24-man pool bannered by the country’s collegiate stars in preparation not only for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers but also for the 2023 World Cup which the Philippines will be hosting.

“With Angola, it was a similar thing. Angola had success in the past but those guys were all old so it’s all about building with the new group,” said Voigt, whose Angola team qualified for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“I see the same challenge now with Gilas. You could see what they’re doing for this (FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers) window and it’s all about building with these young group of guys as you move forward. That’s always been something that I am excited about.”

Other than his stints with Nigeria and Angola national basketball teams, Voigt also had coaching experiences in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Developmental League (now known as the G-League), and in countries like China and Norway.

He was also a former video coordinator for the San Antonio Spurs from 1999 to 2001.

Voigt said the Filipinos tremendous passion for basketball is the reason why he wants to call the shots for Gilas.

“I think basketball here is such a passion and to be part of that is such a great opportunity for me and certainly because the Philippines is the host of the next World Cup,” he remarked.

“Honestly, when I first came here, it struck me. Just the passion and the love for the game. It’s unique,” said Voigt, who first arrived here in the country in 2017, helping his friend Ariel Vanguardia - then the Phoenix Fuel Masters head coach - prepare the team.

Voigt actually applied as the TnT KaTropa’s coaching consultant, but it was the now TnT’s coaching consultant and de facto head coach Mark Dickel who got the job.

“Basketball is so important here and that’s something that’s been there in so long. And having played against the Gilas in the World Cup, I became more and more familiar with the basketball here.”

Currently, Voigt serves as an assistant coach to Charles Tiu for the Mighty Sports squad that will represent the Philippines in the upcoming 31st Dubai International Basketball Tournament. 

“I’m familiar with the Philippines. We’ve played them in the World Cup. So, it gave me the opportunity to study a lot of the players here so hopefully, all that experience is something I can bring to the team and help Charles as much as possible,” said Voigt.

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