BY REYNALD MAGALLON
The lack of preparation and the unavailability of players have been a recurring issue in forming the best team possible for the national team and it continue to hound the Gilas Pilipinas program.
And that, according to head coach Chot Reyes, resulted in Gilas’ lackluster performances in the third window of the World Cup qualifiers and FIBA Asia Cup 2022.
Reyes said they did their best to make do with the cards that they are dealt with but it was just hard to compete with a team that was without its best players and had no luxury of longer preparations which some teams enjoyed.
“We don’t have a naturalized player, Dwight Ramos was also injured and then compound that with the lack of practice time, this is not to make any excuses but I just hope that everyone understands how difficult the situation is,” said Reyes during an interview with PlayItRightTV last Wednesday.
“We’re trying our best as the coaching staff to expedite, put together the team (but) it takes time for people to play together, play within a system. We’re playing against teams here who are already veteran, established teams. It was really difficult. We really tried our best but di talaga kaya unfortunately,” added the national team mentor who also serves as the Gilas program director.
With PBA players not available, Gilas had to rely mostly on collegiate standouts to carry the flag in the recent international competitions. The national team also took a hit on the guts when Dwight Ramos joined naturalized center Ange Kouame on the sick bay.
While Jordan Clarkson’s return to the national team along with the availability of PBA players would somehow address those issues for the fourth window, Reyes is set to face the same problems come the fifth window in November when most of his players won’t be available since collegiate leagues and PBA are ongoing by then.
Asked if the national team can put up a competitive team for the 2023 World Cup, Reyes said that question will always go back to whether Gilas will have enough preparation time and the best players available in the roster.
“If all the players are available, if we get them together for three months for full preparation and practice, then yes, I’m very optimistic that we can put up a competitive team in the World Cup, to put the best foot forward, the best team in 2023.”