GILAS Pilipinas interim coach Jong Uichico is still clueless on whether he will continue calling the shots for the national men’s team in the third and final window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers to be hosted by the country.
Uichico said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has yet to sit down and meet with him regarding Gilas’ campaign in the Feb. 18-21 event to be held under a bubble set-up in Clark, Pampanga.
The 58-year-old Uichico steered an all-cadet national squad to back-to-back wins against Thailand during the second window of the qualifiers held in Bahrain two weeks ago as the Philippines assumed the top spot in Group A with an unblemished 3-0 record.
The former PBA coach was given the task as interim national men’s head coach Mark Dickel and his coaching staff weren’t available since the tournament was held while the PBA Philippine Cup bubble conference was ongoing.
But with the pro league still in the off-season by the time the qualifier is held, Uichico has no idea whether Dickel will be coming on board again or will he continue to be at the helm of Gilas.
Dickel called the shots for Gilas in the first window held last February behind an all-pro squad, which routed Indonesia, 100-70.
He failed to coach the national team in Bahrain as he was with TnT as active consultant in the PBA bubble, where the Tropang Giga finished runner-up behind champion Barangay Ginebra.
“Wala pang sinasabing ganun. Kung tuluy-tuloy ba ako or in what capacity. Everything is up in the air until management makes a decision on that one,” Uichico said.
Besides, from Uichico’s understanding, he’s only tasked to call the shots during the Manama bubble.
Under such set-up, he’s not discounting the possibility of Dickel and his coaching staff of Topex Robinson and Sandy Arespacochaga reclaiming their place in the national team, which will already be made of mostly players from the PBA come the February tournament.
“That’s how it came about na nakapasok tayo kasi it so happen na lahat nasa bubble,” he said. “Next year wala pa namang PBA, so there might be a possibility na si coach Mark (Dickel) ulit especially merong plano na magsama na ng PBA (players). So that’s a possibility.”
Uichico appreciated the effort of Gilas project director Tab Baldwin endorsing Uichico’s stay with the national squad.
But then, the final decision rests on the SBP.
“Of course, I’m hoping that this is for the long term. Pero ako personally, wala pang advise sa akin,” said Uichico.
The third window will have Gilas Pilipinas taking on Asian rival South Korea twice and Indonesia once. Like the Philippines, the Sokors are unbeaten with a 2-0 record, but chose to skip the latest window in Bahrain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aside from Group A, the country will simultaneously hosts competitions in Group C composed of Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and Hong Kong.
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