Many people have celebrated upon hearing the news regarding Chot Reyes’ decision to step-down as the national team head coach. However, what does this really mean for Gilas?
Everything started in Bulacan, when Gilas Pilipinas figured in an all-out brawl against the Australian Boomers in the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Reyes was heard on international television, ordering his men to hit someone in a game that resulted to multiple suspensions and fines.
A total of 12 personnel were suspended for Gilas, including Reyes, which he deemed as ‘unfair,’ taking exception to the ‘inciting unsportsmanlike behavior’ that was handed to him.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas then installed NLEX Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao to man the forefront for the then-upcoming 2018 Asian games and for the first game of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers – the game Reyes would have to sit out due to the suspension.
However, what supposed to be a short- term plan, gave them a sight of the future because surprisingly, Guiao’s hastily formed squad played very well within his system; concluding a fifth-place finish in Asiad despite lacking the biggest names in the Philippine basketball scene.
A chain of roller coaster rides followed for our national team, but what proved to be the last straw for Reyes, was when the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) decided to threw their full support in Guiao. The brightest gems under the San Miguel Corporations’ umbrella were made available for the national team, and the likes of Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Ian Sangalang, Greg Slaughter, and Scottie Thompson were all of a sudden, making their debuts in the FIBA scene.
Reyes’ tenure wasn’t so bad at all. The long-time national coach broke the Korean curse and steered the Philippines in a silver medal finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, falling short against Iran in the championship match.
But still, we qualified in the 2014 FIBA Asia cup with Reyes at the helm. He even pulled a bunch of tricks under his sleeves as we fought close games against top-tier international teams in Croatia, Puerto Rico, and Argentina.
The Philippines had the chance to win all those three games, an excellent feat considering the disparity in talent and Height.
Reyes then went on to give the Philippines its first win on international stage since 1974, as they outlasted a towering Senegal team, 81-79. His dribble drive offense was
innovative in some ways. Reyes utilized it best with Jayson Castro leading the surge and came effective for our team during that time.
The man might be a self-promoter, one of the many reasons why people hated him. He speaks what’s on his mind, he may have even threw a bunch of players under the bus, but despite the controversies that hampered his stint, Reyes deserves to be commended for his service and sacrifice for country.
So, what does his resignation really mean for our country?
In my opinion, Reyes stepping down is one of the best things that ever happened in the Philippine basketball landscape, not because I hated him, but because of the aftermath that his resignation brought. Reyes abandoning the post paved way for our basketball patrons to reunite.
Reyes’ resignation puts the Philippines in its best possible situation, as they now have the luxury to select players from a larger pool of talent with SMC finally opening their doors.
Who knows? Maybe in a couple of months, we will be able to see a line-up that features Junemar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, and Andray Blatche.
For the first time in years, if things fit perfectly, all the what ifs are bound to end, as we are set to see the best Philippine team ever assembled.
The team we all have dreamt of, the team we’re longing to witness, and the team we all truly deserved.