February 2, 2023

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CHOT REYES:  PH’S `BEST TEAM’ IN THE WORKS

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Despite many criticisms from sports-loving netizens and the Filipino basketball community, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes is upbeat about forming the country’s best team ahead of the FIBA World Cup next year.

Chot Reyes, who had a long meeting with the national coaches, said, “I’m very optimistic that we are going to put the best team together come August 2023.”

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes is upbeat about forming the country's best team ahead of the FIBA World Cup 2023.

He said, “Everything we’re doing has only one objective. That is to put the best team forward – prepare and assemble the best team. I want to focus on the term ‘team.’ Not the best group of players or best group of superstars, but the best team.”

Chot Reyes and coaching staff

The Gilas coaching staff, which includes Tim Cone and Nenad Vucinic, will have to see what works and what doesn’t in the fourth window, which is the Asian Qualifiers where the Gilas will play against  Lebanon in Beirut on August 25 and then host Saudi Arabia in the Philippines on August 29. They will evaluate the possible composition of players to come up with the best squad ever.

He said, “I’ve always been very optimistic … that we are going to put a great team together. But not now. We’re taking a look (at the players). This is an opportunity to study.”

The coaches’ huddle, according to him, discussed a lot of options, possibilities, and plans.

He is also aware that the string of setbacks that the Gilas suffered at the start of this year drew a lot of eyes to the team. The Chot Reyes-coached Gilas failed to reach the Fiba Asia Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 15 years after their Southeast Asian (SEA) Games championship loss that ended the country’s 33-year basketball supremacy in the SEA region.

Philippine senate stepped in

The Philippine Senate has also decided to step in as Senators Christopher Lawrence Go, Mark Villar, Joel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino, and Alan Peter Cayetano filed the Philippine Senate Resolution no. 83-2022 urging the senate committee on sports to “conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the ways to support Gilas Pilipinas Men with the end in view of reviewing relevant laws and policies to ensure optimal performance in future international sports competitions and to protect the welfare of Filipino athletes.”

Reyes, however, underscored that the biggest battle remains to be the FIBA World Cup although doing well and competing against the best Asian teams is also vital.

The Philippines is one of the three hosts of the FIBA World Cup 2023.

He even quoted Cone as saying that Gilas need not win the game against Lebanon, adding, “Sure it’s going to be good for PR, going to be a good response to my haters. But for the team’s objective? Not necessarily.”

Reyes said they need to continue to figure things out, learn, develop, and grow.

Jordan Clarkson returns coming

Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson will beef up the Gilas squad in the fourth window. PBA players from the 10 eliminated teams in the ongoing Philippine Cup will reinforce the team.

Meanwhile, reports had it that Gilas program director Tab Baldwin was recently fired although the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) earlier said that the veteran coach resigned in January. It can be recalled that netizens clamored for Baldwin to resume the chief coaching job for the Gilas after the team’s humiliating finishes in international meets this year.

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