MANILA: The Philippines basketball coach resigned and apologised to the hoops-mad nation Wednesday after the national squad failed to win a game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup and finished dead 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.
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.
“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 Philippine campaign was not helped by President Rodrigo Duterte, who openly disparaged the Gilas’ chances against their much taller European opponents.
“We don’t have a chance in that one. Let us bet on China instead,” Duterte said in a speech to Filipino-Chinese businessmen last month.