All-amateur Gilas to work on chemistry, execution; SBP appoints Jong Uichico as head coach

Published November 19, 2020, 3:41 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Gilas Pilipinas coach Jong Uichico hopes to get the right chemistry as preparation continues for the all-amateur national team for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers on Nov. 26 to 30 in Manama, Bahrain.

Uichico, who has been appointed to call the shots for the national team in the Bahrain bubble, said players are adjusting well on the system the coaching staff is trying to teach the players.

“We’re tying to do the best we can, trying to get them ready for the international games,” said Uichico, a former PBA champion coach and a one-time national team mentor, during an online press conference by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Thursday.

“They’re young, and they’re inexperienced, that’s why we try to keep things as simple as possible, things that they can comprehend and execute the best way they can.”

“The young players are willing learners and they are hard workers. That is something positive that we can look forward to… and they also have the energy. We hope that we can get that chemistry as soon as possible,” added Uichico.

Part of the coaching staff are Tab Baldwin, project director of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball program, and Boyet Fernandez – two champion mentors at the collegiate level.

Two weeks ago, SBP president Al Panlilio announced the 16-man training pool for the qualifiers.

Five players selected in the PBA Rookie Draft late last year lead the 16-man Gilas squad for the event, including Allyn Bulanadi, Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, and Rey Suerte.

Joining them are collegiate stalwarts Kobe Paras, Calvin Oftana, Justin Baltazar, Kenmark Carino, Dave Ildefonso, Will Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Dwight Ramos, Gomez de Liano brothers Juan and Javi, and naturalization prospect Angelo Kouame – a member of Ateneo basketball squad – from Ivory Coast.

The final 12 will be announced before the national team leaves for Bahrain on Sunday. They play Thailand twice in the event, and Korea although the Koreans have announced they are not joining due to COVID-19.

SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan said they are still awaiting confirmation from the FIBA if this counts as forfeiture of the game, and if that is the case, would give the Philippine a win in Group A.

Korea leads the group with a 2-0 record followed by the Philippines at 1-0, while Thailand carries 0-1 card and Indonesia 0-2.