Chot Reyes insisted that plans are already in place for the Philippines in the road to the 2023 Fiba World Cup.
“We already had a plan in place for the next window. We’ve put the plan together already all the way until August next year. We just have to execute,” said the concurrent SBP program director after a horror campaign culminated in a 102-81 blowout at the hands of Japan on Tuesday night.
Under-fire ever since he assumed the post early this year from Tab Baldwin, Reyes stuck to his line that Gilas is just trying to roll with the punches and take everything as a learning opportunity for this young side — an ethos he has often repeated through the course of this tournament in Jakarta.
“We’re operating under very difficult circumstances and a lot of restrictions, but we’re making do with what we have and in the end, that’s all we can do: to take what’s in front of us, make do with what we have, and just continue plugging in and plugging away and hopefully, just develop and get better for next year,” he said.
It was not really the redemption story Reyes envisioned, especially after the Philippines’ bitter silver-medal finish behind Indonesia at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi last May, which is still fresh in the fans’ mind.
Reyes admitted he feels the same level of disappointment with Gilas failing to make it to the quarterfinals of the Fiba Asia Cup for the first time since 2007 in Tokushima.
This Gilas team, which Reyes pointed out is made up of Fiba Asia Cup debutants, were dealt bigger blows after naturalized center Ange Kouame suffered a partial ACL tear and top gun Dwight Ramos was ruled out by shin splints.
To him, the exposure that the players gained in this disappointing campaign will only prepare them for the bigger wars ahead.
“We’re very sorry that we’ve disappointed a lot of our countrymen,” he said.
“We brought a very young team here and the experience is just going to make them better to be able to be exposed to the kind of intensity and level of play at the Asian Cup,” said Reyes.
“There is not one player in the team who has ever been to the Fiba Asia Cup and this is all their first time. We wish we could get to the top eight but we were not able to get the job done. There’s very little to say.”
On the other hand, Chot says that Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto will play for Gilas next World Cup qualifiers. These two are among the top two priorities for Gilas Pilipinas as it looks to bounce back.
Head coach and concurrent SBP program director Chot Reyes told PlayItRightTV that he hopes to trot a strong team backstopped by the pair for the fourth window of the 2023 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers this August.
“We also have word that Jordan Clarkson is coming. Hoping to join the team as well to play on the 25th and the 29th [of August]. Hopefully Kai Sotto can make it this time,” the six-time PBA Coach of the Year awardee said.
Reyes is under fire and desperate to deliver results for the national team after Gilas won only once in four games in the continental showpiece, condemning it to the country’s worst finish in 15 years.
Clarkson, a former NBA Sixth Man of the Year awardee with the Utah Jazz, has only suited up for Gilas in the 2018 Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, while Sotto last played for the national team in the February window at home.
Aside from the two, Reyes expects PBA players to beef up the roster with the ongoing Philippine Cup expected to be in its semi final stages by then.
“We will have some PBA players available because the PBA players will then be in the semifinals or approaching the finals already so there will be some players available. Very thankful for the PBA for allowing us, lending us those players,” he said.
Gilas paraded a young crew for the Jakarta tilt, with B.League imports Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, and Bobby Ray Parks, as well as TNT big man Poy Erram reinforcing a crew peppered with collegiate studs like Carl Tamayo, Rhenz Abando, and Kevin Quiambao.