|by paul romero|
There’s another Tiu making his mark in Philippine basketball not as a player but as a coach. Chris Tiu’ younger brother Charles was one of coach Rajko Toroman’s assistants with Gilas during the recent FIBA-Asia Championships in Wuhan and is now in coach Bo Perasol’s staff at Powerade in the PBA.
“I respect Charles’ basketball IQ,” said Toroman. “Many times, he tells me something about a situation in a game and I’m already thinking about it. He has a coach’s mind. Let me make it clear. We didn’t get Charles as an assistant coach because of Chris. He made it on his own. Once, we split our team into two groups at practice and after a scrimmage, I asked the staff why one group won over the other and it was Charles who came up with the right answer.”
Charles, 22, joins George Ella, Alex Compton and Ricky Dandan as Perasol’s assistants with the Tigers. His addition to the staff is crucial because Powerade is bringing in two Gilas rookies Casio and Marcio Lassiter.
“Charles may be the youngest coach in the PBA now,” said Chris. “He used to be the star player at Xavier high school and played for Ateneo Team B, always super close to making it to the first team. He’s so passionate about basketball and other sports like football and baseball. Because of his passion for the sport and for Gilas, he used to follow the team in our games here and even abroad at his own expense. He would also attend practices to learn coach Rajko’s system. Coach Rajko saw his dedication to the team and his basketball IQ is superior – that’s why he invited him to be his assistant with Gilas. He’s also a statistics whiz and a sports encyclopaedia.”
Toroman’s other assistants are likely to go their separate ways. Oliver Bunyi is moving to the San Miguel team in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) under coach Bobby Parks. Djalma Arnedo, Jude Roque and conditioning expert Jimbo Saret are the others in the Gilas staff.
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By the way, Marcus Douthit and Chris are the only Gilas players who saw action in Wuhan not signed to a PBA contract. Last Sunday, they were introduced to the crowd with their Gilas teammates during the PBA opening ceremonies at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Chris, 26, said he will play for the Philippines in the coming Southeast Asian Games. Whether he will enter the PBA draft next year is still up in the air. “Who knows?” he said. “It depends on a lot of things. My priority is the national team but at the moment, I really don’t know what the direction is beyond the Southeast Asian Games. If the Gilas program continues, I hope to stay with the national team. Of course, it’s every Filipino player’s dream to play in the PBA. But I have commitments with media and obligations with our family business. I know playing in the PBA is a full-time job. But you never know what could happen in the future.”
In Wuhan, Toroman was whistled for a technical foul in the game against China and said he couldn’t stomach the spotty officiating in the first half. China’s American coach Bob Donewald called Toroman an “a**hole” and the remark nearly triggered a confrontation involving the Serbian’s coaching staff. Toroman himself was unperturbed.
China beat the Philippines, 75-60, as Gilas played without Lassiter and Chris Lutz. A positive note was Gilas outscoring China by seven in the second half. Donewald later admitted he preferred to play Jordan instead of the Philippines in the finals. China barely defeated Jordan, 70-69, to win the FIBA-Asia title. What raised a lot of eyebrows was the presence of an Indian referee in the championship game. Surely, FIBA-Asia could’ve used a referee with more high-level experience particularly as India has no significant local league to speak of. Was the idea to employ a referee who could be influenced by the hosts and the hometown crowd?
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Shame and scandal tainted Qatar’s participation in Wuhan, prompting the resignation of Sheikh Saud Bin Ali Al Thani not only as Qatar federation president but also as FIBA-Asia president. Five Qatar recruits were found to be ineligible. At least three of the five were African natives – Targuy Ngombo of Congo and Mame Soulaye Ndour and Ousseynou N’Diaye of Senegal. Another Senegal cager Erfan Ali Saeed got off the hook because of his long years of residence in Qatar, presumably as a naturalized citizen.
Ngombo’s deletion was a sore point because he’s Qatar’s leading scorer. In fact, he was picked by the Dallas Mavericks on the second round in the NBA draft this year. Ngombo averaged 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds at the recent FIBA-Asia Champions Cup in Manila and was principally responsible for leading Qatar over the Philippines in the battle for third place.