FROM the criteria laid down by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) panel, it appears cage icon Robert Jaworski may not even clear the initial hurdle in the selection for the next Gilas coach.
Meeting for the first time on Tuesday at the Outback restaurant in Libis, Quezon City, an SBP selection panel got the ball rolling by laying down a six-point criteria to screen the candidates for the Gilas coaching job.
According to insiders, one of the criteria being set by the screening committee is for the next Gilas coach to "have a wide and updated knowledge of the present basketball technology."
Such a criterion appears to dim the chances of Jaworski returning to the national position he last held in 1990 when he led an all-pro team to the silver medal in the Asian Games in Beijing.
Jaworski, 68, has not coached competitively since leaving Ginebra in 1998 - a 16-year gap that was marked by major changes in the game.
Outside of the occasional appearances, Jaworski has also detached himself from the sport where he remains to this day as one of its most popular figures.
According to other sources, members of the selection committee are cool to the idea of having Jaworski on the shortlist of candidates - or much less take over the coveted Gilas position.
“Yun ang isang apprehension sa itaas. Can he still be at par with the best of the best? Kasi mabigat na role ang gagampanan 'pag nag Gilas coach ka. Ang daming demands, ang daming technicalities,” said the source.
“And another thing, is he serious when he made himself available for the job?” added the source.
Another ranking official said: “Basta let’s put it this way. Ayaw kong ako ang maging dahilan para mabigyan siya ng hope na magiging bahagi ng pool.”
Jaworski’s business manager Reli De Leon expressed surprised at the development.
“Bahala sila. Si Jaworski naman regardless of kung sino ang hahawak, ang mahalaga sa kanya para sa bayan yan eh,” said De Leon.
“That’s surprising ha. Kasi he is OK with MVP (SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan), pero I don’t know with the other members of the MVP group. Kasi para kay Bobby (Jaworski), call of duty 'yan. Kung tatawagin siya, OK sa kanya. Kung hindi, he will still be there to support,” he added.
Asked what Jaworski can bring to the table for Gilas after the long layoff from basketball, De Leon, without batting an eyelash, rattled off some of his longtime friend’s upsides.
“He has the experience and he can work full time. And yes, seryoso siya (sa kanyang interest to coach the national team again), if ever na bibigyan siya ng chance,” said De Leon.
And what pushed Jaworski to show interest in returning to coaching, he was asked.
“Sabi niya Olympic qualifying 'yang next year na (Fiba-Asia) tournament eh. Kelan pa daw tayo magkakaroon ng chance, so he too is bent on helping the country achieve that dream,” he said.
De Leon also insisted that the 'Big J' made sure to keep up with the trends and technology of basketball in his time away from the game.
“Alam mo si Bobby (Jaworski), lagi sa computer 'yan. Laging nanonood ng NBA 'yan, ng PBA pati mga Fiba games. Hindi nagpapahuli yan. Ang bottomline he has the iron nerve down the line,” he said.
“Hindi naiiwan ng technology si Bobby at updated siya sa basketball, he is a computer geek,” added De Leon of Jaworski, who he said is a fan of the Miami Heat's Fil-American coach Eric Spoelstra.
“He is a great motivator. He can make even the average player become a star player. “
Aside from an updated knowledge of the game, the committee also wants someone who can go full-time on the Gilas job and enjoys the 'trust and confidence' of all basketball stakeholders and fans.
The committee, which met for over four hours on Tuesday, is made up of SBP executive director Sonny Barrios and vice chairman Ricky Vargas, PBA commissioner Chito Salud, PBA chairman Pato Gregorio, PBA vice chairman Robert Non.
The set of criteria will now be submitted to the SBP executive committee for final approval.
The SBP execom is comprised of Pangilinan, being the SBP president, SBP vice president Al Panlilio, SBP vice chairman Vargas, SBP chairman Oscar Moreno and Barrios.