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    Mark Dickel on PBA comeback: ‘Who knows what the future holds’

    May 7, 2021
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    THE COVID-19 pandemic and a long-delayed back surgery had Mark Dickel adjusting his priorities and deciding to return to the US again.

    The 44-year-old New Zealander reunited with his family in Las Vegas at the end of his three-year deal as active consultant of TnT Tropang Giga, which he helped steer to a runner-up finish in the last PBA Philippine Cup bubble.

    Although Dickel is looking at a possible coaching job either in college or even in the NBA, he’s not closing the door on a return to the Philippines, where he coached Gilas Pilipinasduring the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.

    “Who knows what the future holds,” said Dickel in a short message from Las Vegas. “COVID-19 is making things so hard right now.”

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      Dickel found himself alone in the country when the pandemic struck early last year after his family returned to the US for the holiday break in 2019.

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      As it turned out, the PBA got to play for just one conference in a bubble setup in Clark, Pampanga for a two-month stretch that saw TnT Tropang Giga and the Barangay Ginebra Kings clashing in a historic championship showdown.

      It didn’t help any that Dickel’s back injury acted up during the team’s stay inside the bubble, necessitating immediate surgery once he arrived in the US.

      The operation was successful and Dickel is currently completing his rehabilitation.

      “So much better. I am able to work out now,” he said when asked about his injured back, which he first sustained during his stint in Greece almost 14 years ago.

      Short as his stint in the PBA may be, Dickel said he did enjoy his time working for the telecommunication franchise.

      “I love my time in Manila. Boss MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) and Boss (Ricky) Vargas were great to work for,” added the former top point guard of the New Zealand national team.

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      Champion mentor Chot Reyes has since taken over the TnT coaching reins, but admitted wanting to keep Dickel as coaching consultant after getting to know him well through former TnT consultant and now Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin.

      Dickel however, opted to pursue other priorities in the US.

      In an interview published in the Otago Daily Times, a New Zealand-based newspaper, Dickel disclosed he’s been applying for coaching jobs in the US, specifically in college.

      “I’m interviewing all the time for (college coaching) jobs currently,” he said.

      “Just waiting to see what happens and which one fits, and which area of the country, just trying to keep my options open and just being patient, trying to pick whichever one is the best one – that’s the mentality,” added Dickel, who carved out an impressive career with the University of Las Vegas Nevada under former TnT coach Bill Bayno.

      After a playing career that spanned 21 years travelling the world, Dickel went into coaching, initially landing the head coaching job of the Albanian national team, and then being tapped to handle the Canterbury Rams in the National Basketball League in New Zealand, before eventually getting the active consultant job at TnT.

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      Apart from the Philippine Cup bubble, Dickel also guided the Tropang Giga to the finals of the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup with NBA veteran Terrence Jones as import, but lost to San Miguel in six games in the finals.

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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