By REYNALD MAGALLON
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes remains as the most hated man in Philippine basketball almost two months after the national team’s disappointing finish in the 31st Southeast Asian Game where the country’s three decade reign was ended by Indonesia.
And critics have been active in making their opinions known through social media especially after a pair of lackluster runs for the nationals during the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers and at the onset of the FIBA Asia Cup 2022.
That, however, hardly bothered the national team mentor knowing full well that these were all part of the process he’s been preaching towards the much-grandeur stage in the FIBA 2023 World Cup which the country will be co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia.
“I know in my heart that I am doing my work and doing it for my country. There is no other intention behind it except to serve my country. That’s the only way I know how to serve my country. I’m just keeping myself focused on the big picture which is to put the best team in 2023. Everything we are doing now is preparation to build up for 2023,” said Reyes after being asked by an Indonesian media regarding the negative comments about him.
“Everything we are doing now is preparation to build up for 2023. That’s where people can judge me, how well that team plays. I’m sure that by that time, we would have put together our best team,” he stressed.
Reyes also fully understood the frustration especially that Gilas has not beaten any team except India in the last two windows of the World Cup qualifiers and in the Asia Cup but insisted it was all part of the growing pains in preparation for the bigger picture.
“All the tournaments we have played so far, we did a very poor job in the SEA Games. I took responsibility for that and I didn’t blame anyone. All of those things, that’s all part of the process. The losses, the difficulties, the adversities are all part of it,” he said.
“I just tell the players to just keep focused on the big picture and if we can consistently overcome this, it will only make us stronger for 2023. Just like in a basketball game, we are going to get our hits, we are going to get our bumps, we are going to get down big but we will never give up,” added the veteran mentor.
Reyes, who always makes it a point to have him and the rest of the team log off from their social media every during tournaments, also addressed his critics who have been calling for him to step down from the job.
“To all the bashers and online critics, they just really don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. I mean it’s easy to comment when you are just watching on TV. I don’t really mind them and stay focused on doing my job,” said Reyes.
“No matter how difficult it is and adversity, we have a chance. For as long as we have a shot to have a chance. For as long as we have that shot, we’ll take it. We’d rather take that shot then miss than not take it. Right there, bashers and haters and all, we’d rather take that shot then miss than not take it,” he added.