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Reduce PBA season to two conferences or one during Asian Games, World Cup years to give Gilas more preparation time, suggests Guiao

by Niel Victor Masoy, May 11, 2020 4:58pm

For all the iterations of Gilas Pilipinas in the recent years, there's one common problem that each national basketball team faced: enough preparation time for international tournaments.

One of the biggest reasons of this debacle is that the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) season is still running when a major international tourney is about to come.

Meaning, players and even coaches, whom the national team usually relies to, can't fully commit to joining the Gilas preparations as they are still honoring their duties to their respective ball clubs.

Yeng Guiao, the last man to coach Gilas in a major international tourney which was the 2019 FIBA World Cup, knows this full well. After all, his team has only prepared full-time at least two weeks before the said tournament. That short amount of preparation yielded into a winless campaign for the national team.

"If you’re playing in the World Cup, I guess the lesson you have to learn is one, you have to train early," said Guiao in the Hoop Coaches International presented by Blackwater Elite.

"Number two is, months before the tournament, you have to practice or play teams at the level of the teams that you’re going to play in the tournament. So, that’s time consuming and it takes a lot of expensive commitment. And number three is you have to have the best players available."

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Photo from FIBA

 

Guiao added:

"We’ve had some problems with injuries and also scheduling. Ayan ang pinakamahirap ano. Because even as we play in the World Cup, there’s really just maybe two weeks of training that you can have with the team together. The rest of the time, you’re practicing with seven, eight, nine players because other players are playing in the pro-league. So that’s really been the most difficult problem of coaching the national team---is the bringing the team together. Healthy and available and then bringing them together for a longer [period of time. So that’s been the problem of coaches or most coaches who coached the national team."

So what could possibly the solution to this problem that has been bugging the national time for quite some time now? 

For Guiao, reducing the usual three-conference PBA season to two conferences or even one during Asian Games, World Cup, or even Olympic years is the key, saying that this will allot more time for Gilas to prepare for the said competitions.

"Siguro itong nangyayarii ngayon, what happened now with this quarantine and lockdown is if you can play just one conference then make do with one conference during a World Cup year or during an Olympic year if you qualify for the Olympics or during an Asian Games year. In Asian Games year, you can maybe play just two conferences. Just to give the national team a few more weeks or few more months to stay together," remarked Guiao, who head-coaches the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA.

"To me the best solution there is if we’re really preparing for an Asian games or a World Cup or important tournament, instead of having three conferences that year, maybe we can just have only two. It’s just that simple."

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Photo from FIBA

 

Guiao even rebutted the idea of having Gilas a full-time coach is great, arguing that it won't make sense to have someone coaching the national time full-time if he or she doesn't have the players available full-time.

For Guiao, the only time when players are mostly available is when the PBA is in its off-season. Thus, he suggested the idea to shorten the PBA calendar to two conferences or one only.

"So you can’t really go full time with a full time coach not unless you have full time players also. So it’s really, to me, even if you have a full time coach but the players are not full time, you can’t take advantage of  being together. Because the teams, I mean the professional teams, are still going to be holding on to their players because they also have their own objectives and goals within those teams," he said.

"So even the coach, hindi siya kailangan full time kasi kahit mag full time yung coach, kung yung mga players ay hindi mo naman makuha sa mga teams and you cannot pull them out of their teams then what’s the use of a full-time coach? So if you cannot practice together. It’s really cooperation. Everybody just really needs to commit to the objectives of the national team and these have been the perennial problems. We have always been ill-prepared or just did not have that luxury of time together."

But how about a national team composed of full-time players and full-time coaches like the Gilas 1.0, which banners Rajko Toroman as the full-time coach and the then young and still amateur players in Jayvee Casio, Chris Tiu, and Marcio Lassiter as full-time players?

Guiao said that is the best scenario. However, he stressed that such set up won't make the best national basketball team. And for him, the best team is one that is composed of professional players already, not amateur ones.

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Photo from FIBA

 

"Hindi," Guiao's answer to the question: is having a full-time Gilas coach a must?

"I think it can be done kaya lang I think the PBA will have to make that sacrifice kasi kahit na full time yung coach and the players are not full time, it’s the same thing. If you can have full time coaches and full time players, then that would be the best arrangement. But remember, you cannot get the best players that way because the best players are still going to play in the PBA, in our professional league. And that goes for any league or any national team anywhere in the world. Their best players are playing in their professional league. And you just have to, I don’t know for the PBA, make arrangements."

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