TEAM Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao played down former national team mentor Rajko Toroman’s statement that his current pool is the ‘best team ever assembled’.
The Serbian mentor, who first handled the program almost a decade ago, was sure of what he said but Guiao believes that before they can call themselves the best they should achieve their goal first.
The team had its first practice for the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on November 30 against Kazakhstan and December 3 against Iran both games at the MOA Arena.
“Nakakanerbiyos tawaging greatest Philippine team. Hindi naman siguro,” said Guiao before the team’s first practice on Monday night at Meralco gym.
“I think that will only be proven with the accomplishment that you're able to achieve. So wala pa naman na-accomplish ‘yung team,” he added.
Twelve players showed up on practice - June Mar Fajardo, Beau Belga, Arwind Santos, Gabe Norwood, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, Poy Erram, Matthew Wrigt, Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero.
“On paper, malakas siya pero tignan natin kung ano ‘yung magiging resulta. It puts a little bit more pressure on us but ganoon talaga,” said Guiao.
“We're very lucky actually all these players are made available by the PBA and their mother teams. Malaking pasasalamat sa mga team owners,” he added.
Magnolia duo Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang and Ginebra standouts LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar missed the practice due to Game Two of the best-of-five semifinals series in the PBA Governor’s Cup over at the Araneta Coliseum.
Meanwhile, San Miguel stalwart Christian Standhardinger and NorthPort guard Stanley Pringle were not present.
Still, Guiao put himself in a position of both a head coach and a basketball fan.
“It's really a dream of a lot of... or all basketball fans na mapagsama natin yung the best natin and ito ‘yung opportunity na binigay sa atin. So I think I'll just enjoy it,” he said.
“I'll just be a regular basketball fan. Pwede mo naman i-separate ‘yun as being the head coach of this team – I'm also a basketball fan. If you separate it, parang ito ‘yung matagal mo nang pinapangarap, matagal mo nang ini-imagine, ngayon naging totoo,” he added.
“So I'll enjoy that moment. And at the same time, I have a responsibility as head coach to make the most use out of it, mapaganda natin yung samahan na ‘yun,” he continued.