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If there’s someone to blame in this Gilas World Cup campaign fiasco, it should not be Coach Chot.
He does not deserve it. Well, at least most of it.
His earnest acceptance of the coaching job, even though he might have been aware of his tactical disadvantages against modern international play, proves nothing but his admirable desire to serve the country he loves wholeheartedly. He took the challenge knowing that it would be a tough, thankless job — as it also requires dealing with millions of basketball-crazy Filipinos. He accepted it even though he might have already known that he was just appointed to be a scapegoat if everything went awry.
Any Filipino coach with the same resume as his would’ve accepted the opportunity without hesitation if asked. Coaching a national team of a basketball-loving nation is a tremendous honor, after all.
However, of course, he is still partly at fault for this dismal campaign. His old-school tactics (combined with poor player rotation) that were already proven ineffective in the modern basketball era cost us to lose four straight winnable games. This prevented us from advancing to the knockout stages and booking a sure ticket to the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles.
He had a plethora of games before the World Cup campaign to test if his tactics still worked. However, it seemed like he did not make any adjustments at all, as evidenced by his ”pass-to-Jordan-Clarkson-all-the-time” playbook.
Coach Chot’s only fault is for not making any major tactical configurations going into the World Cup despite knowing it would not work today — and, probably, him not resigning after that equally disappointing silver finish in the 2021 SEA Games. However, his continued appointment despite these aforementioned red flags is (partly) not his fault anymore.
Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP), the highest basketball governing body in the country, could’ve fired him and replaced him immediately with a much better option to bolster our chances come the World Cup, but they did not. Why? That I don’t fully know. However, politics surely played a huge role in this decision.
Well, it always has been.
Capitalist greed has always been at the center of every decision they make. It is as if they don’t care about the growth of the sport after all. They don’t even have a road map or a long-term plan. It seems that they just go along with what happens at the present moment — just like most sports governing bodies in the country.
No foresight. Just vibes.
A case in point is their partnership with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
While their collaboration might seem harmonious on the surface, it is undeniable that the SBP purely relies on the PBA, which gives the latter more dominance over the former.
The PBA is where the best local talents reside, so naturally, it should be where national team players come from. However, since the league’s priority is its marketability (i.e. profits), the national team often takes a backseat. For instance, since most of the national team-caliber players are monopolized by two companies (which own a number of ball clubs), there can be times that they will not be made available due to various — seemingly made-up — reasons. This results in a much lower-quality national team.
However, to be fair, they still offered (band-aid) solutions (to make them appear like they are actually helping). They held a (nonsensical) special draft for Gilas players, but the results are not that great, considering only a handful of players included in those drafts are still being called up to the national team. They even shortened their season to accommodate the national team training for the recent World Cup, a move that they did not allow in the past two world championships (2014 and 2019) for unknown reasons.
Jessi J was right: It might be all about the money, money, money, after all.
Going back, Coach Chot’s prolonged appointment as the men’s national team head coach despite numerous disappointing results, which ultimately led to this dismal World Cup campaign, just reflects the already rotten basketball system of the country as headed by the SBP and the PBA.
Had they made a structured grassroots basketball program from primary to tertiary levels right from the start — or at least after the historic 2014 World Cup campaign — would the result of this World Cup be the same?
Had they set aside their egos and greed and restructured the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and other professional basketball leagues to become fully regionalized like most leagues in the world, would the result of this World Cup be the same?
Had they picked the right head coaches and mentors for the national teams, would the result of this World Cup be the same?
There are numerous systemic issues to address if we genuinely aim to become a proper basketball nation, and Coach Chot should be the last person to shoulder all the blame despite his involvement.
It’s time we demand accountability from the SBP, the PBA, and the self-serving “basketball gods” with the same intensity as how we criticized Coach Chot — and perhaps extend this demand to our current government too. – Rappler.com
Arjay Hije is a BA Communication Arts student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.