Facing intense public scrutiny, Reyes sticks to World Cup plan
Chot Reyes hardly gave any indication that he is bowing to a public clamor for him to step down from his post as national coach, opting instead to fall back to a familiar refrain following Gilas Pilipinas’ crash in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup.
“We brought a very young team here and the experience is just going to make them better—to be able to be exposed to the kind of intensity and level of play here,” Reyes said after a 102-81 defeat to Japan late Tuesday night at Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia, which sent the Philippines tumbling to its worst finish in the event since 2007.
The loss meant the Philippines will fall way short of its goal to crash the Top 8. The result also intensified the public clamor for a change in the leadership of the national program, particularly Reyes as head coach.
“There is very little to say,” Reyes said of the debacle. Instead, he chose to look ahead and gave the assurance that a plan is in place and that the cage program is hard at work trying to maximize the last 12 months leading to the World Cup.
Gilas Pilipinas is hoping to suit up 7-foot-2 center Kai Sotto and Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson, a past winner of the National Basketball Association Sixth Man of the Year trophy in the coming Fiba windows.
“Jordan has made himself available so we’re including him in the roster for the next window,” Reyes said on Wednesday.
Sotto, however, has yet to make a commitment.
“We already have a plan in place for the next window. We’ve put it together all the way until August next year, so we just have to execute,” he said.
On tap for the Nationals is the second round of the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers, where the Philippines is set to play Lebanon on Aug. 25, and then Saudi Arabia four days later.
There, Gilas will also be afforded a chance to exact revenge on the Cedars, which handily beat the Nationals, 95-80, just last week.
After that, Gilas won’t be seeing any action until the second week of November, when it plays the Jordanians and the Saudis for the second window of the qualifying games.
Your weekly sports analysis
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.