CHICAGO - NLEX is lifting a page from the Gilas Pilipinas playbook.
With 13 days to go before the start of the PBA Commissioner's Cup, the team has yet to name a head coach to replace Yeng Guiao, putting the team's preparations for the import-laced conference in limbo.
Starting last Monday, the Road Warriors have been congregating under the watchful eyes of assistant coach Adonis Tierra. But the uncertainty of who is coming and what system he will implement has reduced NLEX's practices into nothing more than strength and conditioning activities.
I'm pretty sure NBA veteran Earl Clark, NLEX's import, is not thrilled about his development. I mean, he is in a foreign land, in an unfamiliar league, and he has no head coach.
Team building requires a leader who will plot a course toward chemistry and cohesion.
The bus can't drive itself to the expressway, so I'm confused about what's going on with NLEX.
Apparently, governor Rod Franco hasn't gotten "approval" (from MVP) on a new head coach," NLEX manager Ronald Dulatre told me in a brief telephone conversation tonight.
Per my sources, there are only two names in the list submitted to the high tower - Jong Uichico and Luigi Trillo. But Dulatre politely said "no comment" when I asked him to confirm the candidates.
After having a recent health scare that required hospitalization, there is speculation that Uichico is less inclined to accept the position because of the taxing daily grind that the job entails.
But Uichico told me that's not necessarily true.
"I am good as new and I will cross that bridge when I get there," he told me via text message.
Out of respect for the process involving the search, Luigi declined to be interviewed. But just like Jong, he stands out as an excellent candidate.
Luigi hails from PBA royalty. His dad Joaqui is a prominent figure who held jobs of varying degrees of importance around the league, at the front office and the broadcast booth.
His brother, Paolo, is currently the team manager at Meralco and is building a strong reputation as a no-nonsense dealer and architect of championship contenders.
But Luigi isn't just basking in the afterglow of his famous family members' achievements. Left to his own devices, he's pretty good, too.
Luigi is in his 23rd year of coaching in the PBA. He learned from the best, 12 years with Tim Cone and eight with Norman Black. Luigi has been a part of five championship teams.
Luigi also earned some of his spurs coaching in the PBL and the D-League. Like Uichico, a loyal company man who also has Gilas duties, Trillo has come a long way.
Just recently, while Black took a leave of absence to bury his mother in the U.S., Luigi quietly took over the reins at Meralco and made the Bolts hum with championship promise.
Only 47 years young, his coaching philosophy is a healthy mix of old and new. He has a defense that bites and an offense that is creative and imaginative.
He will be a terrific choice to usher NLEX in the post Yeng Guiao era.
Boss MVP has made billions in fortune making smart business decisions. And he is about to make another one.
Good for him, though, there is no wrong choice here. Both Jong and Luigi are fit for the throne.
But there's a time constraint and Pangilinan needs to announce his pick sooner than later.
Who you got?