CHICAGO - Quietly, mysteriously, and under the cover of darkness, Nenad Vucinic left Manila last night.
Just hours before his abrupt trip out of the country, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) issued a statement saying that Vucinic did not resign from Gilas and chose only to "let his contract run out."
His contract actually doesn't expire until the end of August, which meant Nenad just ran.
[Read: 'Underutilized' Nenad resigns from Gilas]
What should't be lost in the mix here is how the SBP sat on this development for at least an entire week.
Something's wrong with the picture, it's sketchy.
"The guys at SBP were hoping that word of his resignation won't come out and when it did, they wanted Nenad out of here before the issue clouds the limelight of the upcoming FIBA qualifying window," a source SPIN.ph.
As I had previously reported, Vucinic sought the audience of Manny V. Pangilinan to explore what his role would be in the national team following the exit of coach Tab Baldwin as program director.
UNWANTED AND UNLOVED?
Vucinic had felt under-utilized and under-appreciated, sources bared. The wisdom he wanted to share and apply to Gilas as it prepares for the 2023 Fiba World Cup fell on deaf, disinterested ears.
All of the above, plus the fact that he "didn't want to work with coach Chot Reyes" made Nenad decide on leaving last week," added the source.
Nenad came to the Philippines with the best of intentions to modernize our Gilas' basketball philosophy. He had five-star credentials and a wealth of international experience. For sure, he didn't want to be Chot Reyes' valet.
Can you blame him?
But the always PR-conscious SBP is spouting the narrative that Nenad's departure was anything other than a stiff arm and a total repudiation of SBP's archaic and blatantly unspectacular system of running a program.
And the inference that Nenad left "to pursue other opportunities" is stupid. I mean, why would he travel 5,024 miles from New Zealand to the Philippines and just work a six-month contract?
ONLY THE SBP THINKS THAT SUCH A TREK MAKES SENSE.
In the laundromat business, that line of thinking is referred to as washing the dirty laundry and putting it on spin cycle.
But some things can't be twisted like a pretzel.
One is the fact that Nenad wanted to deal with no one but MVP himself. I think the move spoke to the distrust and discomfort he had with the SBP leadership and its cadre of bosses and under bosses.
[Read: SBP insists Nenad, Gilas parted ways amicably]
Second is the hurt that coach Tab's and Nenad's exits would inflict to our standing in the international basketball community, especially how both fell victim to the tangled web of politics cheap drama that is eating up the national basketball federation.
After losing two brilliant coaching minds, the SBP still had the temerity to say "we have what we got."
Sure, never mind if Gilas' record this year in Fiba-sanctioned events is a pathetic 3-8. And never mind if we can't win gold at the SEA Games anymore.
If only those folks are as dedicated to winning actual games as they are to winning the PR battles, our program will perhaps be in a much healthy place.
But that's wishful thinking.
So for now, Gilas fans will have one more reason to thank SBP leaders for every tussle and turn in their agonizing, sleepless nights.