RAIN or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said Gilas Pilipinas needs to realign its priorities, insisting that the national team program should focus more on conquering Asia than impressing on the world stage.
Asked about his opinion after a Gilas team that made heads turn in the Fiba World Cup suddenly bombed out in the Asian Games, Guiao aired the need for basketball leaders to channel more energy and focus towards the goal of becoming the No. 1 team in Asia.
“Sa akin lang, I think talagang dapat mag-set tayo ng focus. Personally, more than the world stage, we should focus on conquering Asia first,” said Guiao, sharing the view that Gilas became too pre-occupied with the historic trip to the Fiba World Cup in Spain last month.
“Mag-design tayo ng program na unahin ang Asia, makuha ang number one dito. Bonus na lang ang world kung mag ka qualify tayo," Guiao added.
“Ano ba ang mas importante sa atin, No. 31 in the world or No. 1 in Asia? Pag nag No. 1 tayo sa Asia, tataas rin tayo sa world (rankings). Let’s set our priority first.”
Guiao said the goal is doable, considering that we have come close a couple of times to beating reigning Asian champion Iran and have beaten rebuilding China as well as South Korea on the way to a runner-up finish in last year's Fiba Asia championships in Manila.
“Let’s restore our dominance here in Asia first. Kaya natin yun … muntik na nating tinalo ang Iran. Yung China, I don’t think their team is invincible,” said Guiao. “ Tapos na ang time ng China, yung time nila Yao Ming, bata pa ang players nila ngayon. Baka pwede nating masingitan 'yun.”
“South Korea, isa pang mabigat yan. Pero kaya natin eh. Kung naglaro si (Marcus) Douthit (sa game natin against them sa Asian Games), di natin alam baka nanalo pa tayo,” said the six-time champion coach.
For podcast of full interview with Guiao, click here:
Guiao reiterated his support for current Gilas coach Chot Reyes, who he believes is the only marquee coach who can give his full commitment to the national team.
Reyes deserves a shot at redemption after the Asiad letdown, he added.
“Pwede pa siyang (Reyes) bigyan ng pagkakataon. Pero this time let’s realign our objective. Masyado tayong na starstruck sa world stage. Let’s focus on what we really want and that is to put ourself on top of Asia,” he said.
“Tama rin naman eh. After we played sa Fiba world, ang sarap disgrasyahin ng Argentina, Puerto Rico. Pero para sa akin, mas importante ang dominahin muna natin ang sarili nating bakuran,” added Guiao.
A bronze medallist in the 1954 world basketball championships, the Philippines dominated the Asian basketball scene by winning the Asiad gold medal in consecutive fashion in 1951, 1954, 1958 and 1962. We were also Asian champions in 1960, 1963, 1967, 1973 and 1985.
Reclaiming lost glory in Asia should be the top priority, Guiao said.
“Let’s regain the respect in our continent, and the respect of the world will come. Habulin natin ang Asian crown. Kaya natin yan,” stressed Guiao, who was the chief mentor of the hastily formed 2009 Powerade Team Pilipinas that finished eighth in the Fiba Asia championships in Tianjin, China.