Chot Reyes tunes out social media criticism, focused on Gilas ‘big picture’
MANILA, Philippines — Despite being under fire on social media, Chot Reyes remains focused on the Gilas Pilipinas and the big picture, which is to assemble the best team for the Fiba World Cup 2023.
The Philippine men’s national team head coach has been constantly on the receiving end of backlash, especially since Gilas Pilipinas lost the gold in a stunner in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
Fans also took to criticizing Reyes anew after he said that their 80-95 loss to Lebanon on Wednesday was a “great learning experience” for his young squad.
During the postgame interview of their 101-59 blowout win over India on Friday, Reyes was asked by an Indonesian reporter about the comments of the Filipino basketball fans to fire him.
“I have a secret I don’t read those comments. I have completely locked off my social media accounts. So I don’t see those comments. Of course, people tell me and they let me know,” Reyes answered. “But in the end, the way I see it is that I’ve been given this job. I didn’t volunteer for it. I did not apply for it. I was happily retired and doing my work enjoying my life coaching my professional team, but my predecessor stepped down so somebody has to do the job.”
Reyes stood defiant that Gilas’ ongoing Asian stint as part of their build-up for the World Cup next year.
“And I’m just keeping myself focused on the big picture, and the big picture is to make sure that we put together the best team for the World Championships in 2023,” he said. “So everything we’re doing now is preparation and build up for 2023. And that’s where people can judge me: how well the team plays because, by that time, I am sure we would have put together our best team.”
Reyes, who returned as national team head coach replacing Tab Baldwin last January, admitted that he hasn’t assembled the best Gilas roster yet, fielding a PBA-laden squad in the February Asian Qualifiers window and their disappointing silver medal finish in the SEA Games before bringing back a young squad this July.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to get our best players yet until today up to this very point, we still don’t have a chance to get our best team together,” he said. “But all of the tournaments that we’ve played so far, we did a very poor job in the Southeast Asian Games. I took responsibility and accountability for that, I did not blame anyone or anything.”
“But all of those things, that’s all part of the process. These losses, the difficulties, the adversity, and I always tell the players to just keep focused on the big picture and that if we can consistently overcome these adversities, it will just make us stronger for 2023,” he added.
The TNT coach said he will continue taking the negative comments in stride and serving the country.
“Just like a basketball game, we’re going to get our hits, we’re going to get our bumps, we are going to be down big, but we will never give up,” Reyes said. “So to all of the bashers and online critics and comments, I think they just really do not know what’s happening behind the scenes. I mean, it’s easy to comment when you’re just watching on television unless you really know what’s going on. So I don’t really mind them. I just stay focused on doing my job.”
The Gilas coach is shifting his focus for their last Group D match against New Zealand on Sunday at 9 p.m. (Manila time).
The Philippines improved to a 1-1 record, good for the next round of the Asian Cup.