Gilas Coach Reyes faces tough task finalizing FIBA roster
MANILA, Philippines - Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes faces a major problem in completing the Philippines’ 24-man pool that will compete in the 17th International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Basketball World Cup, which Spain will be hosting for the second time.
The 24 nations competing in the tournament, which runs from August 30 to September 14, will be divided into four groups of six teams where games will be simultaneously held in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios said Reyes needs to make sure of the 24 names that he will submit to the organizers since he can no longer make changes to the 12 players on the reserve list.
“Kailangan pag-isipan maigi ang line-up. (We need to think thoroughly when it comes to finalizing the lineup). Coach Chot cannot just insert another player who is not on the original 24-man pool,” said Barrios. “We will play with the cards that are dealt to us. But we want to send the best team we can.”
Barrios added that Reyes is covering all the bases in order to make sure that the Philippines will field the most competitive unit that will go up against the world’s best basketball teams in Spain.
“Coach Chot wants the team to train in Europe because if you want to improve you need to play against teams better than you. But that still depends on what the SBP and the (Philippine Basketball Association) will agree on,” said Barrios.
He added that Reyes, the SBP and the PBA board will meet within the month to discuss when the clubs would release the PBA players that will be included in the 24-member pool and if the league will adjust its schedule to accommodate the practices of the national squad.
“We hope the PBA can find a way to pro-actively support our campaign. There are many ways to skin a cat. I hope the PBA can find a solution that will not hurt the league as much. If the PBA can only give us two months (with their players) it may be sufficient,” said Barrios.
The team will be hard pressed to give their best in the FIBA World Championships since SBP Manny V. Pangilinan wants the team to make good use of their sting back in the big stage.
“MVP (Pangilinan) told the whole team he does not want them to be tourists in Spain. He (Pangilinan) like all of us will be disappointed if we lose all five games (in the eliminators). The target is to win at least two games and move to the next round,” said Barrios.
“It’s a high target but depends on the grouping that we’re landing. You can only imagine if we are bracketed with the United States. We cannot go there thinking nothing will happen. The pessimists are saying it’s a waste because nothing will happen but that’s not the right attitude.”
The Philippines qualified to the FIBA worlds for the fifth time after clinching the silver medal in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship for Men losing to Iran in the finals, 85-71.
The last time the country qualified for the FIBA worlds was in 1986 after the country topped the Asian continental qualifying tournament the year before in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Philippines, however, failed to play in the FIBA worlds after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution and was replaced by China.
The Philippines first qualified in the FIBA worlds in 1954 where the Carlos Loyzaga-led squad finished third behind champion United States and runner up Brazil. The country dropped to eighth in the third edition in 1959.
The Philippines returned to the FIBA World Cup in 1974 after becoming the Asian champions in 1973 and again as hosts in 1978 where the country lost all of its seven games in the semifinal round of the quadrennial event.
“This time lumaban tayo at nag qualify. Though, we fell short of winning the gold, pinaghirapan natin ang panalo. Kaya nga naiyak si (head coach) Chot Reyes dahil malaking pressure ang nawala sa kaniya,” added Barrios.
("We fought and qualified; we fell short of winning the gold but we had a hard-earned win. That's why [head coach] Chot Reyes cried because a huge chunk of pressure evaporated thanks to the win.")
Spain as hosts, London Olympics gold medalist USA, African titlists Angola, Egypt, Senegal, Americas champions Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Iran, South Korea, European winners France, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Oceania region Australia and New Zealand are the other competing teams.
Nigeria, Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, China, Qatar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, Russia and Turkey have submitted their application for the four wild card slots that will complete the roster for the FIBA worlds.
The draw will be held on February 3 in Madrid where the 24 teams that qualified in the Basketball World Cup will be divided into four groups.
Reyes, together with team manager Aboy Castro and logistics officer Andre Teh, will attend the draw.
Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag, LA Tenorio, Larry Fonacier, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Gary David, Japeth Aguilar, Junmar Fajardo, Marc Pingris, Ranidel de Ocampo, naturalized player Marcus Douthit and reserve Beau Belga are the members of that silver medal-winning team that qualified in the FIBA worlds.
PBA top rookie pick Greg Slaughter, Kelly Williams, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz are the other players that Reyes wants to be part of the 24-player pool. -Rappler.com