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Former Australia Boomers coach open to the possibility of coaching Gilas

by Reynald Magallon, May 09, 2020 12:53pm

Being on the other side of the infamous Philippines-Australia brawl, former Australia Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis bared it was not entirely impossible for him to go over the fence and take the helm for the Gilas Pilipinas.

The 51-year old international tactician expressed his interest to be the coach of the national team if offers go his way during his talk in the Hoops coaches International Webinar organized by Blackwater last Wednesday.

"All options are always on the table," said Lemanis. "As a coach, you always got to keep your options open cause it's a profession. It is what it is. You got to go where the jobs are and the job is tenuous and every coach is a day away from being fired. Every option is always something you explore."

Lemanis guided the Aussies to a fourth place finish in the 2019 World Cup and was also at the helm when Australia bagged 2013 and 2015 FIBA Oceania titles and the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup gold.

The Aussie-Latvian mentor had fought against Gilas in the World Cup qualifiers and  experienced the Philippine brand of basketball first hand.

"What immediately stood out was the energy with which they played, how hard they played, and the passion which they played which I really liked. I really liked those aspects and those attributes. I thought they were really skilled as well," Lemanis commented.

"One of the things that I'm not aware of or underappreciated before I got in the international stage was how big basketball is in the Philippines. And it's just awesome to be involved in an environment like that and to see how much it means to everyone in the Philippines, and I think that translates in the national team," he added.

Despite of what happened between the Boomers and Gilas, Lemanis commended that passion of the Filipinos towards the sport.

"You can see that there's the passion and the pride and they know that they're representing the country and themselves, but they really commit to the game and you see a high level of skill that only comes because they've been playing the game for a long time."

Lemanis also noted the talent of Filipino dribblers have especially those who played the guard position.

"The guards of that team have been very impressive. I actually really enjoy watching them play, the passion and the energy, just how hard they play, and the skill level is kind of cool," he commented.

"I was impressed with them when I first saw them, and when I knew we had to play them in the qualification series, I was interested and thought they'll be tough to beat," he added.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas decided to find a full time coach to take over the helm for the national team. TNT consultant Mark Dickel served as the interim coach for Gilas in the February window while SBP is choosing the candidates for the job. The Gilas head coach will have a daunting task of preparing the team towards the 2023 World Cup which the country will be co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia.

Seeing the Filipinos play in the international stage, Lemanis was confident his system can be a good fit to the Filipino dribblers.

"I've run it in many different environments with many different players and again, it can be successful as long as it's encouraged for the players to play to their strengths and make reads, and then the skill of the coach is to ensure that the players are playing in the positions or running the variations that most suit the guys that you have," he said.

"I think it's more about the players being able to read the game, the fundamentals of the game, being able to read what the defense is doing, what is my advantage, what my teammates have done and how do I space off this and having the patience to do that. And also being willing to play as a team."

"As long as the guys are prepared to buy into what's best for the team, then anything can be successful really. It's all about playing basketball and being spaced and making basketball plays and reads."

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