THE NATIONAL Men’s Basketball Team of Brunei Darussalam will have a new Head Coach as their national federation formally announced the appointment of Nomar Angeles Isla. The veteran Filipino mentor has agreed to a two-year deal and will plane in on August 1 to assume his duties.
Among the new coach’s first priorities is to conduct a massive talent search not only among native Bruneians but also worldwide for possible recruits with Bruneian roots. Naturalizing a player or two is also an option.
Coach Isla is no stranger to the international game, having served as an assistant with the 2000 Philippine Under-20 Men’s Team that won the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Young Men’s title in Manila. Two years ago, he was appointed head coach of the Under-16 Women’s team but had to resign for personal reasons in the middle of the team’s preparations for the FIBA-Asia meet in China.
This is also not the first time for Coach Isla to handle a non-Filipino team. He has had several stints coaching commercial clubs in Malaysia over the last three years, leading Sarawak Firehorse to the 2011 National Basketball League crown, his debut season in the league.
Of course, the highlight of Coach Isla’s resume is his long stint as the head coach of the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, steering the varsity squad to multiple championships in the National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA), Universities and Colleges Athletic Association (UCAA) and University Games (UniGames). After leaving EAC, he piloted the Laguna franchise in Liga Pilipinas to several titles in the league that featured home and away games all over the country.
Most recently, Coach Isla was employed as an assistant coach of the University of the East until earlier this year. He is still connected with the school as team manager of the Women’s varsity, a task he may have to give up soon.
When UE’s core players were recruited by Cebuana Lhuillier in the semi-pro PBA D-League, he assumed the role of the team’s assistant manager. Coach Isla has also had experience coaching in the professional level as an assistant with the RCPI Negros Slashers of the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) in 2002.
The long term goal is to make the sultanate a contender in the Southeast Asian region. Admittedly, dislodging the Philippines as the sub-zone’s King is a daunting task but the possibility of an upset will always be there.
Coach Isla will be taking over from Coach Kevin Reece, whose contract will be expiring this month. The American tactician had been in-charge of the Brunei national program since 2010.