During the gold medal match between Spain and Argentina in the recently-concluded FIBA World Cup in China, Yao Ming of the Chinese Basketball Association passed the FIBA flag to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman emeritus and FIBA Central Board member Manny V. Pangilinan, signifying the official turnover of the hosting duties to the Philippines and its co-hosts.
In a press conference upon his arrival in Manila, Pangilinan shared the federation's plans for its co-hosting of the World Cup in 2023 with Japan and Indonesia.
"It's safe to say that our players and coaching staff gave it their all in China," said Pangilinan. "But it's also sage to say that there is disappointment coming from our fans so the SBP would like to apologize because it's not just on the team. The SBP was a part of that as well. It's inevitable that 2019 will be compared to 2014 and for us what's important was to keep improving. Now did we do that in China? It doesn't appear so. But that's in the past now and what we need to focus on is our hosting for 2023 and putting together a competitive team."
The first step in the process, though, is picking the next Gilas Pilipinas Men head coach.
"We'll have to do it quickly. I don't know if there's a timetable. We have to search for the new coach. It could be a local coach or a foreign coach," said SBP President Al Panlilio.
Former Gilas coach Yeng Guiao had earlier said that the country has to adapt to the playing style of European teams, which he believes are currently dominating international basketball. That's why Panlilio and the SBP will strongly consider selecting someone with knowledge of Euro ball.
"If we want to go European, we need someone who knows the European system very well. That's something, I think, is part of the assessment. If the suggestion even of Coach Yeng is that we should adapt the European style of basketball, then we do need a European coach or at least somebody who knows European basketball. Everybody is under assessment," added Panlilio.
Another question that needs answering after the campaign in China is the situation with Gilas' naturalized player.
"I'd like to thank Andray (Blatche). If not for him, we would have not made this World Cup," said Panlilio. "He's a big asset and factor in our Gilas program for the last four years, but we need to reassess moving forward. But I'd like to thank Andray for all the sacrifices that he has done for us. At the end of the day, he showed the heart of a Filipino and he has become one with us in terms of this program."
Through the years, there have been a lot of names floated out as the potential candidates for naturalization, such as Isaiah Austin, Justin Brownlee, and, most recently, Chris McCullough. Panlilio clarified, though, that this process will have to wait until a head coach is selected.
"We first need to identify the coach and based on the assessment of the coach we'll have to start the process of naturalization," he explained. "As I said in the past, we would need at the very least two names, if not three, put it in a pool so we'd only need one process of naturalization, which should also should start soon after we identify the coach."
Once the coach is identified, the next order of business for the Gilas program is to form a squad for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which will be hosted by the Philippines.
"Twenty-four names were already submitted to the organizing committee," said Panlilio, while adding that some of the senior Gilas members were not included.
"The names of Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle were there. From the amateurs, Thirdy Ravena and Isaac Go were also part of the list and many more," said Panlilio. "It's really a way for us to develop the other players. So if you see the mix of the players in the list, there are amateurs and also PBA players."
ESPN5's Lyn Olavario contributed to this report.