Chot Reyes does not see the need for Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to hire a foreign head coach for Gilas Pilipinas, as he firmly believes that a Filipino bench tactician is capable of fulfilling the task.
The former national team mentor expressed his sentiments asked about the issue during his talk in the Hoop Coaches International Webinar hosted by Blackwater Elite Sunday.
Reyes’ opinion is based on international competitions in the past that there isn’t really much of a difference between local and foreign coaches as far as results are concerned.
But the man who steered the Philippines back to the FIBA World Cup after nearly four decades aired his thoughts with all due respect to the foreign coaches that he had worked with.
“We don’t need a foreign coach. We’ve tried it before,” said Reyes, who first coached the Philippine team in 2005.
“I love Tab [Baldwin], I love Mark Dickel. I was the one who brought Tab here to the Philippines, remember? I’ve had great relationships with Rajko Toroman, everybody. And you know how close I am to Tim [Cone], and you know how close I am even with coach Norman [Black],” expressed the only five-time PBA Coach of the Year.
“I have huge, huge respect for foreign coaches. But in the end, where did it take us? ‘Di ba? Where have we gone with the foreign coaches.”
Reyes, though, isn’t against having foreign coaches on the national team, citing his Gilas stint. Tab Baldwin, Nacho Escano, and Norman Black were all with him in the 2014 World Cup.
But for the outspoken tactician, no one can “capture the heart of the Filipino” better than a Filipino coach.
“What we did in our system with a Filipino coach, we made sure we have a lot of very good foreign talent in our coaching staff,” Reyes recalled. “In our World Championship staff, I had Tab, I had Nacho Escano, I had Norman Black… I had all these great coaches. But I think the Filipino coach is the one who’s really going to be able to capture the heart of the Filipino.
“‘Di ba? Maski gaano kagaling ‘yung foreign coach, wala siya ‘yung puso eh. Wala siya ‘yung pusong Pinoy, ‘di ba?
“And hindi naman nila maiintindihan talaga ‘yun eh, kasi tayo lang ang makakaintindi talaga nun eh. ‘Yung talagang magpapakamatay tayo,” Reyes added.
Reyes, though, wasn’t shy to admit that he had too much of that heart, which put his team in trouble.
There was the ugly brawl that happened between Gilas and Australia in the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in 2018 — a night that changed the program.
Reyes was suspended for a game, and was slapped with a hefty fine by FIBA for that. And that proved to be his last game with the Filipino dribblers, as he was soon replaced by Yeng Guiao.
Guiao coached Gilas until the 2019 World Cup in China, then resigned from the post following the Philippines’ showing in the prestigious tilt, where it finished dead last among 32 teams.
The SBP has since been looking for a new head coach to handle the program in the long run.
“Yes, minsan mapapaaway tayo, and I know we’ve gone through hell and gotten so much flak for that. But kung talagang Pinoy ka, hindi ka talaga magpapatalo eh. Hindi ka talaga magpapatalo,” he said. “Ano sabi natin sa Tagalog nun? Patay kung patay eh. E ganun talaga eh, ‘di ba? Eh kung ayaw niyo o… Eh ‘di palitan niyo na lang kami. That’s just the way it is.
“So let me ask you: meron bang foreign coach na ganon? ‘Yun lang naman ang tanong ko eh. Nothing against them. I think they’re great for Philippine basketball, I think they give a lot of value, especially to other upcoming coaches. But in the end just take a look at the results. Take a look at the results, where the Filipino coaches have been able to take the national team.”
At the end of the day, though, Reyes said that the one thing that will really make the Gilas program successful is the full support of all basketball stakeholders in the country, regardless who the coach is.
“In the end, I guess, whether it’s a Filipino or a local coach, the important thing is full support — players, resources, time to practice. That’s the more important thing,” said Reyes.
“Because think about it, let’s get a foreign coach in — and I know they’re talking about some European coach, bringing him in — and then what, he will come here to practice every Monday once a week? Tab doesn’t even like to do that, right? Even Tab Baldwin doesn’t like that situation. ‘Di ba? Kukuha ka, pa-practice ka once a week, pa-practice ka two weeks lang bago mag-tournament.
“So now they’re thinking about forming a separate team just strictly for the World Cup. I think that’s a good idea. I think that’s a good situation. That’s a good direction. But is it foreign or a local coach? Why not local, ‘di ba? I think we’re just… Nasisilaw lang tayo minsan because of all these great other things around it but in the end, it’s just about coaching. Whether foreign or local,” he closed.