The Philippines basketball coach resigned and apologized to the country on Wednesday after the national squad failed to win a game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup and finished last.
Yeng Guiao’s team were blown out by a combined 105 points by Italy and Serbia to open their campaign in Group D at the tournament in China, and also lost to Angola in overtime, 84-81.
The Gilas, ranked 31st in the world, fared no better in the classification round, losing by large margins to Tunisia and Iran to finish last out of the 32 nations competing.
“I am sorry we could not deliver a better performance. Our players gave their best against talented, bigger, stronger, and better prepared athletes from the best teams in the world,” Guiao said in a statement.
“Even if I had known from the beginning that this would be the end result of my decision to accept this coaching job, I would have had no second thoughts in making the same decision. I have no regrets in having taken the path I have taken in the past year; the only regret is that I would have wanted the team to have performed better on the world stage,” he said.
Guiao took over the Philippines’ crippled team last year, succeeding Chot Reyes, who was among two coaches and 10 players given suspensions for an on-court brawl with Australia in a World Cup qualifier in Manila.
The July 2 melee left the Australian team fearing for their safety and prompted them to seek embassy help to speed up their departure from the Philippines.
Three Australian players were also suspended after the brawl, which also saw spectators storm onto the court.
-Resignation accepted with a “heavy heart” –
“It is with a heavy heart that we accept Coach Yeng’s resignation,” Basketball Federation of the Philippines president Al Panlilio said in a separate statement.
“Guiao had the unenviable task of picking up the pieces for Gilas Pilipinas,” he added, praising the coach for securing qualification to the World Cup despite the tall odds.
The Gilas coach thanked “all fans and friends who wished us well, supported us, and offered their prayers.”
“I am grateful from the bottom of my heart. I am truly blessed to have coached the best that Philippine Basketball has to offer and to have competed amongst the best in the world. I consider the past year, most especially our participation in the World Cup, as the highlight of my career,” Guiao said.
He said that he takes pride in having taken over the Gilas Program “at a point of crisis, where the team was decimated by the suspension of players and coaches after the Australian incident.”
“From there we put together the team and the program with the support of the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas), the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association), and our basketball public, to take 5th place in the Asian Games – our best finish in the last 16 years – with an opportunity to make the finals, except for a loss to China which was decided with one possession. With the help of Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson, we almost achieved the improbable,” Guiao noted.
The Philippine campaign was not helped by President Rodrigo Duterte, who openly disparaged the Gilas’ chances against their much taller European opponents.
-Guiao proud of PHL qualifying for FIBA-
Guiao said that he was proud that the Philippines made it to the top 32 elite teams of FIBA, after struggles and adjustments through three qualifying windows for the FIBA World Cup.
“…we were able to qualify for our second straight World Cup appearance. This was my only promise to our basketball officials and public – that if we were not able to achieve this, I would gladly step down as head coach of the GILAS Program.
“After all the hard work and struggles, the stars aligned for us and the Philippines made it to the top 32 elite teams in the world – and this, only a year after the team was almost decimated by suspensions,” he said.
“It is in this context that I view my year of leading this program in a positive light.”
Agence France-Presse with an Eagle News Service report