The Horror in Hanoi is still fresh in the memories of Filipino baskeball fans.
It was just a couple of weeks ago when a PBA-laden Gilas Pilipinas saw its 33-year reign in the Southeast Asian Games come crashing at the hands of Indonesia.
In every avenue possible, Chot Reyes has apologized for what transpired in Vietnam.
And a day before he returns to the PBA, the leading candidate for this year’s Coach of the Year plum is again pleading for patience.
“Alam ko maraming nagagalit but please understand the problem that we are facing just in the selection process right now,” said Reyes during Saturday’s episode of Power & Play with Kom. Noli Eala.
“We are just asking for patience. August 2023 ang pinaghahandaan natin and we will put the best lineup possible.”
Reyes will not be handling Gilas Men for the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers’ third window, giving the task to Nenad Vucinic.
Chot is also overseeing the development of Gilas’ Under-16 Boys team that is set to compete in the Asian Championship in two weeks.
And with the two programs — the Men’s side filled with amateur stars sprinkled with B.League imports and the other composed of high schoolers, Coach Chot is saying that this is all part of building the foundation for not just 2023 but also the years after it.
“Remember, as program director, my job is not just to make a program for 2023 but also for the future of Philippine basketball. To put a program so that tuloy-tuloy na. So that even if we are no longer here, the program continues.
“That is why we put a lot of effort dito sa 16-and-under. Kung makita mo yung players that we have here. We have four or five 6-foot-6 and over,” he said as Gilas Youth has the likes of 6-foot-5 Caelum Harris (Stewart Creek HS), 6-foot-5 Kristian Porter (AHS), 6-foot-5 Alex Konov (Manasquan HS), 6-foot-5 Basti Reyes (College of Sciences, Technology, and Communications), and 6-foot-6 Zain Mahmood (Al Red HS).
Coach Chot though knows that there is a clamor to bring the majority of the fabled 2021 Gilas batch to the World Cup. But he stresses that the best team could not have PBA players.
“To be very honest, I don’t think by 2023, we can’t put the best team without the PBA players. That’s the reality we have to face.
“But there are a couple of players in Japan and a couple of players not in Japan or the PBA that can make the final pool,” said Reyes, most likely citing Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto, Thirdy Ravena, and, maybe, Jordan Clarkson.
“We really have to open our thinking because we never know who’s going to make it. Kaya mas lalong mahirap to coordinate the schedule of the PBA and the UAAP. Just imagine the nightmare,” he closed.