Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My suggestions for Pilipinas' national team head coach

This appears on the PBA's website.

My suggestions for national team head coach
by rick olivares

The search on for the new head coach for the national basketball team and Gilas Pilipinas consultant Tab Baldwin is one of the contenders (I won’t extol his Curriculum vitae here because that has been written much about of late but suffice to say I think he’s a great candidate too).

Another candidate who should be in the discussion is Norman Black. That of course depends on his availability since he just joined Meralco. If the MVP Group of companies is going to allow him a sabbatical from the PBA club, then he should be considered and I’d wholeheartedly recommend him given his recent accomplishments with Ateneo and Talk ‘N Text as well as his participation in Gilas Pilipinas! Like Baldwin there is familiarity and continuity!

I realize of course that maybe we should go in a different direction with a different feel to the squad in its approach for the simple reason that anyone who comes in anywhere wants to put his stamp on things rather than pick up from where the former left off.

And so I would like to recommend two other men for the job.

They are Tim Cone and Franz Pumaren.

Why Tim Cone?
For one, he just won a PBA Grand Slam. In fact, he owns two of them. And he owns the record for the most number of championships in the pros.

Second, he coached the national team to a gold in the William Jones Cup and a bronze in the Asian Games in 1998. That year might be an eternity as international basketball has changed somewhat since that time but that is why you need a full time coach – so he can get acclimated right away. And Coach Tim is no rookie who needs to get his feet wet. He will hit the ground running.

He’s been in the league long enough that everyone knows him and vice versa. His players swear by him and will respond to him. One pro who just recently suited up for him and is now with a another team said that he was shocked to compare the difference in training between his old and new coach. With his current club, he has to volunteer to do more while with Cone, it was… like boot camp. All the time. That of course, is not meant in the derogatory sense. In that player’s mind, it was a massive plus.

In a recent and lengthy interview with Coach Tim, he said that the only time he would consider coaching the national team is if San Miguel Corporation boss Ramon Ang allows him. I realize that would mean leaving Purefoods because coaching the national team is a full time job but this is just too delicious not to entertain given the resources the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas pours in support for the nationals.

I’d say there is no finer coach at the moment who should be patrolling that sidelines for the country. I’d also venture to say that he reminds me of the United States’ Michael William "Mike" Krzyzewski not because they are both Americans but because of the values they espouse and they manner in which their comport themselves.

Now in the event Coach Tim cannot accept the job, the second man I believe is ripe for the position is… Franz Pumaren.

Why Coach Franz?
He knows about service for sure. Coach Franz not only played for the national team (and for five years with the fabled Northern Consolidated Cement squad) but he also has had international experience as a head coach albeit the RP Youth squad that competed in the Under-18 Seaba Championships.

As a hoops benchmaster, he is no stranger to turning squads around.

When he was tapped to coach La Salle in the UAAP, the team was known as the eternal bridesmaid to FEU and UST in the Finals. In his very first year with the Green Archers (coincidentally in 1998 the year Tim Cone was coach of the national squad), Pumaren knocked the monkey off DLSU’s back as they won it all. And he proceeded to win three more in succession and one more before he stepped down in 2009.

With the Air21 franchise in the PBA, Coach Franz eventually turned the squad around despite its many limitations (and let’s not kid ourselves because we know what they were) in his third year, as the Express became a tough nut for the upper echelon squads to crack.

I thought that Pumaren was a very innovative coach during his time in the UAAP. He sprang that dreaded press and made those staggered screens death traps for all who deigned to chase his shooters. He has an eye for talent and certainly knows about building programs.

What I loved about his latter Air21 teams was that they in some way resembled his old NCC team – a team composed of mostly young players just out of college. And they played great.

I believe that he has all the time to dedicate himself to the national team since Air21’s PBA franchise was sold to NLEX.

Now if everyone is in a tizzy over whom to select, hear me out. The cool thing is – you can have Coach Tab as team consultant (because of his vast international experience and exposure), Coach Tim as head coach, and Coach Franz as his top assistant. It still is a win-win situation for Philippine basketball!


  1. Agree, but he has to quit as Purefoods coach :) And in addition, I think Junemar, Japeth and Greg will definitely flourish under Coach Tim.

  2. Let's talk criteria first!!!

  3. No need to put the cart before the horse; it is stupid.

    The question is, "What basketball system can bring us, Filipino basketball, to more wins or be competitive?"

    We cant be imitators here!