Wednesday, August 15, 2007

To keep him or not to keep him

(Photo source: Apple Daily)

To keep him or not to keep him. That's the problem. The "him" here refers to the Korean head coach Chung Kwang-suk, who was hired by the CTBA two months before the Asian Championship to salvage this national team that was once dubbed as the strongest ever in Taiwanese basketball history but always ended up with disappointing results.

Chung said in the first press conference that his goal would be take Taiwan back to the top four in Asia. And he almost did that. Taiwan finished for six place in Tokushima, Japan.

It's not something to be proud of, you might say. True. But imagine that Chung did it without Tien Lei, who could've produced 15 points and 10 rebounds every game; Chen Chih-chung, who was generally considered the best floor leader; and small forward Ho Sho-jen and point guard Su Yi-chieh. And don't forget that Chung also lost starting center Tsun Wen-din, who missed the preliminary round entirely and was a non-factor in the tournament.

On top of that, Chung did not have much time to make this team HIS team. And he had to go through a translator to communicate with his players all the time, since he speaks Korean and the players speak Chinese and no one on the team speaks English.

Now that the tournament was over. The question will be whether to keep Chung as the NT head coach and whether the CTBA likes the direction he's taking this team. Many fans have called for keeping him because they liked what they saw in the tournament. The short-handed Taiwan NT never gave up any game and played their hearts out.

However, Chung also drew some criticism for his substitution strategy as six players have played the majority of minutes in the entire tournament. In a couple of crucial games, Chung decided to go with only five players for the entire game, citing reasons that the subs have not been doing a good job and the games were too important for him to take risks.

According to an Apple Daily report, Chung was signed through September this year on a US$5,000 monthly salary. That sounded pretty cheap to me for a veteran coach with Chung's experience and expertise.

Traditional thinking would be that the CTBA will keep Chung. But the CTBA is never "traditional" and often might just do the opposite. Taiwan NT does not train and play all year. Coupled with the fact that the CTBA has no national team program to speak of (Well, it has, but the program pretty much did not operate), keeping Chung without giving him a team would be weird.

Will Chung be able to coach Dacin, CTBA president Wang Jen-da's team, which was something he had done in the old CBA days? Because rumor said current Dacin head coach Liu Jia-fa is contacting Segway Technology (former ETSN). Will Chung be kept as a NT head coach that acts as a scout when there's no tournaments going on?

I don't have the answer, but I give Chung a high score on his first test and do think the CTBA should keep him.