Sunday, January 17, 2010

Frankie Lim to take over Smart Gilas management from Noli Eala

FROM QUINITO HENSON

I wanted to write about this big development a couple of days ago, but more important things at my day job kept me busy. Rey Joble broke the news that erstwhile Talk N Text team manager Frankie Lim was taking over the management of Smart Gilas, whose day-to-day operations were being handled by Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas executive director Noli Eala. Interestingly, Joble was the same guy who reported that the SBP had offered the controversial Japeth Aguilar an P18-m contract to jump ship from Burger King to Smart Gilas, which belied earlier claims by Eala that they had not offered Aguilar anything.

The SBP issued a statement officially announcing the move on Thursday evening. It quoted SBP Vice Chairman and Talk N Text team governor Ricky Vargas explaining the decision.

SMART APPOINT LIM GILAS TEAM MANAGER

FRANKIE Lim, the multi-titled NCAA champion coach of the San Beda Red Lions and former national player, has been appointed team manager of the Smart Gilas national team effective Feb. 1.

Lim, who sits as team manager of the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in the Philippine Basketball Association, will be “on loan” to the RP team now in deep training for the coming Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

Assuming the top managerial post with the Tropang Texters is former national juniors and De La Salle Green Archers coach Virgil Villavicencio.

Former PBA chairman and Talk ‘N Text governor Ricky Vargas made the announcement yesterday afternoon, saying Smart Gilas needed a team manager who would be “more focused on the day-to-day operations, has coaching experience, and has been part of the national team as a player.”

Added Vargas: “We’re redefining accountability in the national team.”

Former PBA commissioner Noli Eala, who has been serving as Smart Gilas team manager in his capacity as executive director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the national sports association governing local amateur basketball, will now “have more time to take care of his many responsibilities” with SBP, Vargas said.

“We’re taking some of the burden from the executive director,” said Vargas. “After all, aside from generating more membership for SBP, he still has to take care of our grassroots development program and our involvement in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association, the SEA Games, and the FIBA tournaments.”

Lim, according to the SBP vice chairman, will assume responsibility for the “day-to-day operations of Smart Gilas, its financial management, contracts, and recruitment of players.”

And having been a national player, Vargas said, Lim can work with Smart Gilas’ Serbian mentor Rajko Toroman “from a technical standpoint.”

A management committee, mainly comprised of SBP chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, Vargas and Eala, will oversee the Smart Gilas team’s overall preparation.

“There will be a proper turnover of functions from now to Feb. 1, and then Frankie will be taking over,” Vargas said.

A couple of things struck me about the statement. First, there was the curious line about “redefining accountability in the national team,” suggesting that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Was Eala less than accountable while managing the team?

In prior posts, I have raised questions about the trend of the Smart Gilas team having problems getting or holding on to players, as well as the sloppy job that the SBP has done in trying to find reinforcements for the team. (How’s Jamal “I’m injured every other game” Sampson working out for everyone?) Are these issues related to the move?

Second, Vargas’ statement underscored the importance of the SBP executive director attending to other duties within the organization. When grassroots basketball pioneer Nic Jorge resigned from the SBP last year, he complained that Eala’s only concern seemed to be the Rajko Toroman-coached national team. Other programs such as youth basketball development took a backseat.

Indeed, the SBP’s grassroots efforts have been handled by Eric Altamirano’s National Basketball Training Center, a program that was already in place prior to Eala assuming office, and that has been operating autonomously, with its own machinery and sponsorship. Apart from projects aimed to discover and develop young talent around the Philippines, the program has also prepared modules to provide training for coaches across the country.

It should be noted that Eala announced that Altamirano, fresh off coaching the youth squad to an impressive fourth place finish in the Fiba Asia U-16 Championship, was going to join Smart Gilas as an assistant coach. A few weeks later, however, Altamirano denied that he was joining the team, stating that the youth program was his top priority.

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