MANILA, Philippines?It took 17 long years before Yeng Guiao was finally honored with the head coaching job of the national basketball team.
On Thursday the fiery Red Bull mentor was given the prestigious task, which he said ?has been a lifelong dream? and one he almost gave up on after a controversial non-selection in 1991.
?It?s quite a long wait,? Guiao told the Philippine Daily Inquirer after Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Renauld Barrios finally announced his choice at the league?s offices in Libis, Quezon City.
Guiao won out over former national coaches Chot Reyes of Talk ?N Text, Tim Cone of Alaska, and Jong Uchico of Barangay Ginebra, becoming the sixth PBA coach to handle the national five.
?This is a great honor and privilege,? Guiao said.
It was also sweet for the 46-year-old vice governor of Pampanga, who was snubbed as coach of the 1991 Southeast Asian Games team by the Basketball Association of the Philippines.
Barrios said he made the choice after ?validating things? for himself in his first full year as top honcho of the PBA. It also helped that Guiao was endorsed by many league officials.
Guiao took two championships with the defunct Swift Mighty Meaties before winning another three import-spiced tournaments with Red Bull.
One of the early ideas that Guiao is entertaining for the national team is the recruitment of naturalized players in the lineup, something like the program in the past employed under former RP coach Ron Jacobs.
?We have to bite the bullet,? Guiao said. ?If we want to be included at least in the top three in Asia, we have to employ what the other countries are doing, and that is to tap naturalized players.?