Wilson to serve as playing assistant coach for Phoenix
Willy Wilson knows he is at the tailend of his playing career and retirement is soon upon him.
But the hardworking Phoenix forward doesn’t plan on walking away from the game he loves for good by the time he decides to hang up his sneakers.
The 37-year-old Wilson already has his post-retirement planned out as he takes on a dual role for the Fuel Masters starting next conference.
“Willy is playing a greater role as a playing-assistant coach this Commissioner’s Cup,” Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia told INQUIRER.net on Tuesday after wrapping up practice at Upperdeck Sports Center in Pasig City. “He wants a career in coaching after his stint so he’s been showing enthusiasm in it.”
“Of course after my career is done I wanna slide into a coaching role. As of now, it’s kinda like coaching in training and at the same time kind of helping out some of the younger guys and passing what I know to them,” said Wilson.
Wilson, who is already in his 13th PBA season after being drafted in the second round by Alaska in 2004, said coaching is something that’s been on his mind for quite some time now.
“I was at Ginebra playing for coach Jong Uichico so he’s actually the one who put the thought in my head about coaching and that I might be able to pursue that after basketball,” said Wilson, who played for Jong Uichico from 2008 to 2012.
Standing only at 6-foot-3, Wilson thrived as an undersized big man due to his hard work, hustle and high basketball IQ.
“I’m always that cerebral player. I’m not the most athletic guy, but I rely on positioning and just basically using my mind, court awareness and court instincts so that’s something that I can pass on and I think I can be very effective by doing that,” he said.
Wilson’s job has already begun as a mentor to Phoenix’s budding players like second-year forward Joseph Eriobu and rookie point guard Gelo Alolino.
“I’m taking him (Eriobu) under my wing. Just showing him what I know in areas that he can help the team and just how to be a better professional so that he can have a long career as well,” said Wilson, who won a title with the Gin Kings in 2008.
“He will be like a mentor to Joseph and to our younger players and I appreciate that. Maybe one day when he retires, Joseph will fill his spot,” Vanguardia said.
Alolino needed only a conference playing with Wilson to feel convinced that his veteran teammate has the makings of being a coach.
“I wasn’t surprised that he wants to be a coach someday. He’s the type of guy who is quiet sometimes but usually, he will approach you and give you pointers and at the same time, you can always go to him and he’ll tell you tips on how to be a better player,” said the 23-year-old Alolino.
Wilson has a year left in his contract but his playing career depends on how his body feels from the wear and tear following another grueling season.
“We’ll see from there after the end of my contract, but I’m not saying I’m gonna retire after that, we’ll see how my body feels. If it’s my time, then it’s my time and I’ll be okay with that.”