Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes has shed light on the team’s roster selection process, clarifying that there was no distinct ‘final cut’ made from the Philippines’ player pool for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. Reyes revealed that he had personally communicated with all four players just days prior to the tournament’s commencement.
During the team’s first media-covered practice session on Tuesday night, notable absences included Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks Jr., and Calvin Oftana, which reduced the pool to 13 players. It was subsequently announced the next day that Chris Newsome would not be part of Gilas’ final lineup.
“I talked to Thirdy [Ravena] personally, I made a call to Ray Parks, Calvin [Oftana], and to Chris [Newsome], so I called them all at the same time. There was no really final cut,” clarified Reyes during the pre-event press conference for the FIBA World Cup.
“After practice, I was very subdued because I told them I’m about to make… the coaching staff is about to make a very tough decision but it falls on me to deliver the news. The way I like to do it is I call the players themselves. That’s my commitment to my players. They’re not gonna find out about it on social media or from any other person but from me personally,” added Reyes.
Reyes explained that Newsome participated as a practice player for Gilas, while Ravena and Parks needed to rejoin their Japan B.League teams. Oftana, on the other hand, returned home to Dumaguete to be with his family.
“But the reason why Chris is with us is that Thirdy and Ray have to report back already to Japan, to their teams, right? And Calvin had to go back to Dumaguete to be with his family, with his baby. They would have been here with us if not,” noted the long-time national team coach.
The accomplished PBA champion coach praised the dedication of the four players who didn’t make the final cut, emphasizing that Oftana, Ravena, Parks, and Newsome all gave their utmost during the team’s preparation for the global basketball event. However, the coaching staff faced the challenging task of narrowing the roster down to 12 players.
“It was very, very difficult. I like to call it the deepest cut. It’s really difficult. Some guys, you know [that] we had to cut were there since day one. They asked us and I told the team the same thing three days ago,” expressed Reyes.
“That’s how difficult it was, but like I told them, it’s not about anything they did wrong or any lack or deficiency on their part. It’s just that we had to make a choice. In the end, we have 16 guys, and we can only choose 12. For me, that is really the coach’s most difficult job. Sana if they were doing something bad or wrong or they were just really, you know, bad for the team, but not. They were all doing everything that we asked, but we just had to make a decision.”