‘He’s one of us’: Jordan Clarkson, Dwight Ramos defend Chot Reyes amid boos
MANILA, Philippines — Jordan Clarkson rallied behind Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes, who got booed by the home crowd during their Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers game against Saudi Arabia on Monday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The jeers hurled toward Reyes every time he was flashed on the big screen did not sit well with the NBA star, who played his first home game before 19,829 fans.
“He’s part of us, he’s one of us. And booing him in the crowd, whatever is going on, I’m not here a lot throughout the years so I don’t really know what’s going on but seeing these last days, he kinda received some boos here. He’s our coach. He’s one of us. He works hard. He put us all together. From when I’ve been here, he pour it all out in the game,” said Clarkson during the postgame interview.
“He ain’t got to deal with none of those boos. He’s coming back to this game cause he love it. He loves the country. He loves this team and each and everyone of us,” added Clarkson, who led the way with 23 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Reyes, who is also the national team program director, was moved by Clarkson’s answer, tapping his naturalized player on the back.
The 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year is happy that he got the chance to play for Reyes, who approached him a decade ago.
“To be honest with you, coach Chot was the first person to talk to me about 10 years go just going into college. So just being here, sitting next to him. It’s all we’ve envisioned. Honestly, this is all been a blessing and for somebody who’s putting this together, bringing me and Kai (Sotto). His dream, his vision coming into the game, like I said, I think we all just support him and support what he got going home,” Clarkson said.
“This next World Cup, whatever he got, we have each other’s backs. Support each other going through this. I’m here with my coach. I know everybody in the locker room is, from the top, MVP and everybody. People didn’t appreciate that at all so moving forward, I think we need to change our actions and show some love and peace here,” he said.
Dwight Ramos, who got one of the loudest cheers from the crowd, echoed Clarkson’s sentiments.
“I’ll appreciate you guys not booing our coach. We’re all together as one and I really didn’t appreciate that. It wasn’t a good way for us to start the game. So if you’re gonna support us, support all of us cause we’re all in one team,” said Ramos, who scored nine points.
Reyes, who has been under fire on social media since he replaced Tab Baldwin in February, is taking the higher road, saying the fans can boo and curse him but not his players.
“For me, I’d much rather get booed by the crowd than the players get booed. Boo-hin niyo na ako nang todo, wag niyo lang boo-hin yung mga players. Suportahan niyo lang yung mga players. That is fine with me. Murahin niyo na ako, bash niyo na ako nang todo. Basta suportahan niyo yung team, suportahan niyo yung players,” said Reyes.
The multi-titled PBA coach, who steered the national team back to the World Cup 2014, will keep his focus on serving the country by guiding Gilas in leading up to the country’s historic hosting of the Fiba World Cup 2023.
“Coming back here has absolutely no individual consideration. There is no me in this whole thing for me. The only reason I’m doing this is for the country. This is just my service for flag and country. Like I told the players in the locker room, the relationships, the bond we’ve built, I’m willing to take all of that,” Reyes said.
“I’m sure you know how many haters I have, I know that there are also supporters. Maybe not as vocal, maybe not as noisy. But as long as I can inspire one or two individuals, then it is all good and as long as we have the players together in that locker room.”