Reyes leaves TNT on his own termsBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
ON THE verge of establishing a dynasty, Chot Reyes left Talk ‘N Text with little fanfare.
After five PBA championships and barely missing a Grand Slam in 2011, Reyes has silently left the Texters to take on a different, more difficult challenge, and that is get Philippine basketball back on the world map.
“It’s bitter sweet,” Reyes told the Inquirer over the phone when asked how he felt about leaving Talk ‘N Text. “I felt I had a team that could still win more championships.
“But I’ve been in the PBA exactly 20 years and I felt that it was time to take on something new,” he said, adding that the Texters are in capable hands now with the multi-titled Norman Black.
Reyes was named the new head coach of the Smart Gilas program, which will be put to an early test starting Saturday when the all-pro squad reinforced by naturalized center Marcus Douthit flies to Taipei for the 34th William Jones Cup.
“I knew that I was going to leave the Talk ‘N Text even after I renewed my contract after missing the Grand Slam,” added the firebrand drillmaster. “The renewal of my contract actually dates to the end of the national program.
“For me, we accomplished what we wanted at Talk ‘N Text even after failing to win (the Grand Slam). We repeated as all-Filipino champions and that was tougher than the Grand Slam.”
The Philippine Cup title earlier this year was the last championship for Reyes, but he was quick to point out that it felt more special, especially since the last time a squad defended it was 28 years ago, compared to the Grand Slam that was last won in 1996.
And just like the guys he left at Talk ‘N Text, Reyes immediately felt an attachment to the players he has now, making special mention of Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan.
“Gabe and Jeff were in (national team) practice the morning after they won the Governors’ Cup,” Reyes said. “And that, for me, tells a lot on how dedicated those two guys are.”
Reyes said that this new batch of Nationals will head to Taipei not really focusing on winning.
Reyes said that he has no regrets in leaving the Texters, reiterating that the Philippine Cup championship validated his move.
“If I go (out), at least I did so while I was at the top and that I wasn’t axed by management,” he said. “I was able to go out a winner, in my terms, which is what I want.”