He’s been receiving crisp jabs and people who see only the negative side of the Gilas Pilipinas campaign in the World Cup want him crucified, but head coach Chot Reyes, who decided to withdraw from being included in the shortlist of candidates to coach the next Gilas Pilipinas national squad, got the much-needed support from key members of the team.
“Gusto kong magpasalamat kay Coach Chot sa pagsisilbi niya sa bayan natin. Alam mo naman sa trabaho ni Coach Chot talagang malupit eh. Bilang coach, sa iyo lahat nakatingin. Manalo o matalo, mahirap rin talaga. Hindi mo rin kontrolado talaga lahat. Gusto ko lang malaman ng lahat na na-appreciate naming yung effort ni Coach Chot, kung paano siya nagsilbi sa bansa natin,” said De Ocampo.
Jared Dillinger admires Reyes’ fighting spirit, something which he rubbed off on the rest of the team.
“Just his fighting spirit. His will to win, his flair, his ability to get the best out of each and every player. He sacrificed so much. A lot of people don’t understand what really he has to go through. They just kinda see the games from an outsider’s perspective on what he’s doing for the team. On the inside, it’s a lot of grit, a lot of fire, people just see the flash in the pan, the hoopla, the sponsors, the fame. I don’t think people are going to understand that unless you’re with Coach Chot for a long time,” said Jared Dillinger.
Jayson Castro felt sad the moment he learned that Reyes decided to withdraw his name from among the list of possible candidates for the next coaching job. Reyes has been Castro’s coach from Day One.
“Siya yung coach ko simula pa nung umpisa ko sa PBA. Siya yung nag-draft sa akin,” said Castro. “Parang siya yung number 1 mentor ko. All of a sudden biglang ganun yung nangyari. Pero sa tingin ko yung nagawa niya maganda pa rin. Para sa akin successful pa rin yung program.”
Team captain Jimmy Alapag, who had his final voyage with Gilas Pilipinas in the World Cup and the Asian Games this year, as well as coaching consultant and veteran international coach Tab Baldwin, believe Reyes was misjudged by people who are looking beyond what the team achieved.
The Philippines suffered its worst campaign since the country started sending PBA players to the Asiad.
“The judgment made after the Asian Games was a little unfair considering the overall success of the program,” said Alapag. “But again, Coach made his own decision. As a player and as a friend, you have to support it, but he definitely leaves big shoes to fill for the Gilas program.”
“I think the reaction was an overreaction,” said Baldwin. “Because all in all, Gilas proved in the World Cup that it’s a force when maybe a lot of people didn’t know that and didn’t believe that was true. Again, a lot of credit for that has to go for coach Chot.”