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Yeng Guiao steps down as Gilas Pilipinas coach
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Yeng Guiao steps down as Gilas Pilipinas coach

September 12 ------ YENG Guiao has stepped down as head coach of Gilas Pilipinas, barely a day after the national team's arrival from a Fiba World Cup campaign that saw it lose all five games, most of them in lopsided fashion. Guiao, 60, apologized for the 32nd-place finish in the global showpiece but at the same time absolved the players from blame, saying they "gave their best against talented, bigger, stronger, and better-prepared athletes from the best teams in the world." "I knew what conditions existed, what the limitations were, and still, I accepted the challenge. I hold myself responsible for the consequences," he said in a statement he sent to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) on Wednesday, a copy of which was obtained by

The multi-titled coach said he was stepping down to give the SBP "a free hand in building and developing a program towards achieving our objective of competing with the best of the best." On the day the whole team arrived from Beijing, Guiao met with SBP president Al Panlilio, vice-chairman Ricky Vargas and chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan where the coach said he 'initiated something.' It turned out to be his resignation. Asked about it later, Guiao said the group discussed the World Cup campaign and he had the chance to make 'recommendations' on how best to move the national team program forward, based on what Gilas learned in the China letdown. "We discussed something for the longterm," Guiao said.

At the same time, Guiao put his second stint as national coach - the first one was during the 2009 Fiba Asia Championship in Tianjin, China - in perspective, saying he took over at a 'point of crisis' to put the Gilas program back on track in the wake of the July 2018 brawl against Australia. With the Philippines saddled by suspensions to coaches and top players, Guiao, a consensus choice of the SBP and PBA to replace Chot Reyes, put together a team built around the core of the Rain or Shine squad which he led to a fifth-place finish in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. Given the national coaching job permanently after that, he and Gilas overcame a rough patch by sweeping two games against Qatar and Kazakhstan in the final window of the qualifiers to punch a ticket to the World Cup, which, regardless of the results, Guiao considers the "highlight of my coaching career." "It is in this context that I view my year of leading this program in a positive light," said the seven-time champion coach in the PBA.