By JONAS TERRADO
TNT coach Chot Reyes acknowledged that he’s been coping with the criticisms he’s been receiving in the aftermath of Gilas Pilipinas’ stunning defeat to Indonesia that led to its silver medal finish in the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games.
Reyes described himself as the “most hated man in Philippine basketball” over his handling of Gilas campaign in the regional meet which ended with a loss to Indonesia on the final day of competition.
Fans have been calling for Reyes to either quit as national coach or for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to find a replacement.
“Believe it or not, it was a welcome relief for me,” Reyes said after TNT’s 78-72 win over Magnolia Chicken Timplados to begin the campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup Sunday, June 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Alam niyo naman nangyayari with that that loss, I am today the most hated man in Philippine basketball,” added Reyes, who was candid throughout the postgame press conference.
The veteran mentor said he opted to keep himself busy in the days following the defeat, focusing on TNT’s preparations for the coming season and the Gilas program with Serbian mentor Nenad Vucinic, who was tasked to call the shots for the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
“For me, it was the gift of busyness, just keeping myself busy and doing my other stuff,” he said. “There’s very little I can do with what happened, and as unfortunate as it is, what I can do is what I can do, really.
“I’m here to coach TNT, help negotiations with Mikey Williams, oversee the Gilas program with Coach Nenad and the U-16 team. Like I said, it’s a gift of busyness for me.
He has also opted to veer away from social media, something which he rarely does prior to the Hanoi debacle.
“I’m completely logged off. I don’t see what’s being written about me, I’m not on any social media,” said Reyes. “So aside from the gift of busyness is the gift of silence. And I’m thankful that I’m logged off because I’m able to do so many things.
“That’s one way I cope with it along with the help of my support system, my family, my true friends and, including members from you guys,” Reyes continued. “And my refuge and my source of solace is my team — the players who continue in spite of everything give their trust to me.”
With the disaster of the SEAG campaign arguably the biggest dash of his coaching career, Reyes could only stress the need to move forward and hope for better days.
“Nobody else can pull myself up than myself,” he said.