MANILA, Philippines, May 21 ------ TNT active consultant Mark Dickel understands why Chot Reyes believes that a Filipino coach is best suited for the head coaching position in Gilas Pilipinas. Reyes made the comments during an online coaching seminar, where he stressed that the national team doesn't need a foreign coach. "We've tried it before," said Reyes. "I have huge respect for foreign coaches. But in the end, where did it take us? Where have we gone with the foreign coaches?" The Gilas head coaching job is currently vacant, with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas yet to appoint a full time coach after Yeng Guiao's resignation in September 2019.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone called the shots for the national team that won gold in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, while Dickel was named interim coach for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers earlier this year. "I respect where he's coming from," Dickel said of Reyes, whom he said he has "huge respect" for. "Chot… has been really nice to me since I've been here. Obviously, I love Josh, his son, really helped me so much. Really good young coach," he added. "I saw his comments. That didn't strike me one way or the other."
For Dickel, the nationality of the coach should not be the biggest issue when making the choice. "To me, it should be about, who is the most qualified for the job," he explained, during another coaching seminar. "Surely, you want to have the most qualified person for that, whoever that is." "Now, if it's somebody from here, or somebody from Croatia or France or Australia or wherever, then surely that person should be the best for the job," he added. "I don't think it necessarily matters where that person is from."
One reason that Reyes wants a Filipino coach is that he believes only a fellow Filipino can truly understand the "heart" of the Gilas players. "Maski gaano kagaling 'yung foreign coach, wala siyang pusong Pinoy. At hindi nila maiintindihan 'yun, kasi tayo lang magkakaintindi noon," he explained. But Dickel believes that this, too, should not be a point of contention as a good coach should be able to relate to his players, regardless of where he came from. "Coaching all around the world, and whoever that coach is, if it's me or somebody else, I'm sure he's gonna be able to relate to the players and learn about the players and get them to play how they want them to play," he explained.
SBP president Al Panlilio said in January that they are receiving plenty of applications for the Gilas coaching position, with several international coaches interested in the job. "I think from an international coaching point of view, a lot of them are very interested to coach national teams naman talaga eh. And I think most especially the Philippines, where really basketball is a big sport," Panlilio said. "If they're able to win that spot, it's a very exciting life for them ahead. So they see opportunities."