Gilas Pilipinas’ game against India in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers not only saw the return of Chot Reyes as the Philippines’ head coach, it also saw one of his visions turn into a reality.
Back in 2018, Reyes opened the new year by revealing a list of 23 elite prospects who can potentially compose Gilas’ team for the 2023 Worlds.
— Chot Reyes (@coachot) January 5, 2018
Seven months later though, the Gilas-Boomers brawl happened that resulted in Reyes’ removal from the national team.
Forty-three months since the unveiling of the list, Reyes was back on the helm. And he had four members from that list as part of Gilas in Robert Bolick, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, and Juan Gomez de Liano.
“I mean, there was no secret that we were looking at the young players at that time because we wanted to prepare them, give them a five-year preparation to be ready for 2023,” recalled Reyes after Gilas’ 88-64 win over India. “And like we’ve talked about as a team, you never really can tell. I mean, who would have imagined one month ago that that combination of pairs is going to be in that dugout today. Absolutely no idea.
“A lot of us had absolutely no idea we’re going to find ourselves in this position but I think the lesson that we learned as a team, and I guess a lot of our fellow Filipinos can learn that lesson, is just to continually be prepared and be ready. Whatever that you’re doing, whether it’s basketball or sports or anything in life, at work or whatever, just continuously keep yourself ready because you never can tell,” he continued.
“And that’s the situation that we find ourselves in and we’re just doing our best, taking advantage and I’m very happy about those names.”
In fact, Bolick used the 23-for-2023 card to get into the pool.
“In fact, when Robert Bolick called me to tell me that he’s ready to play for this team, he said, ‘I want to play in this team coach because I was in the original 23 for 2023 lineup‘,” quipped Reyes.
“So it’s funny how things turn out.”
The quartet definitely shone against India.
Bolick, who was making his first Gilas appearance since the 2019 FIBA World Cup dazzled, as usual, tallying 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting with four rebounds and an assist in just 15 minutes of gametime. Positionmate Gomez de Liano produced three points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Leading the charge not just for the 23-for-2023 cadets but also the entire team are Ramos and Ravena.
Ramos got 17 points on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting clip with four rebounds, three assists, and a steal while Ravena added 15 points, three assists, and a rebound.
For Reyes, it’s not just the on-the-court production that is given by Ramos and Ravena. It is also their leadership as they are pegged to be the leaders of the next generation.
“Like what Dwight said, scoring is never an issue for us,” he said. “We never go out and consciously look to score we run our stuff and we take advantage of opportunities but what we’re looking for with Dwight and Thirdy is not to lead the team in scoring but to lead the team so we are really looking at them to be the leaders of this team.
“We’re slowly transferring that mantle of leadership from the Gilas players of the past to these two guys now, because like I said, this is a longer program, we’re preparing for next year and beyond. So Dwight is 24, Thirdy is 25, so this is part of their maturation as leaders and that’s what we’re looking at for both of them.”
With reports from Jeremy Chua
The second game of each playdate is also livestreamed on SMART Sports.