FIBA World Cup

Chot Reyes laments lost chance to play entire Gilas pool after Korea pullout

JR Isaga
Chot Reyes laments lost chance to play entire Gilas pool after Korea pullout

ODD MEN OUT? Some members of the 15-man Gilas Pilipinas pool may not see action due to limited games left in the qualifiers.

FIBA

‘I was really looking to play all 15 in the four games, to find even just a few minutes for several guys who've never had the opportunity to play in an actual FIBA game before,’ says Gilas coach Chot Reyes

MANILA, Philippines – The second window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asia qualifiers have been marred by the last-minute pullout of South Korea due to a late COVID-19 case.

Plans have been thrown in disarray, especially for host team Gilas Pilipinas, which was supposed to play their rivals twice on Thursday, February 24, and Monday, February 28.

Although the Philippine contingent is obviously sympathetic to Korea’s health situation, national team head coach Chot Reyes nonetheless lamented the lost chances to fully challenge his team, and shuffle his pool rotations.

“With four games, I was very confident and [had a] pretty good idea on how to play all 15 in the roster. Now with [just] two games, admittedly that’s going to be a problem,” he said.

“There’s going to be some discussions and decisions that we have to make as a coaching staff, and we have to talk to the players themselves. “

A few days earlier, Reyes bared that Gilas had been preparing a lot for their two games against Korea, but now the team has changed its approach on the fly with the looming chance that not everyone in the downsized 15-man pool can play.

“I was really looking to play all 15 in the four games, to find even just a few minutes for several guys who’ve never had the opportunity to play in an actual FIBA game before,” Reyes continued.

“But now that’s a problem. We still haven’t decided, it’s a work in progress, and we’ll basically know when game time comes.”

The 15-man pool of the world No. 33 squad will be led with PBA standouts, namely NorthPort’s Robert Bolick, and TNT’s Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Poy Erram, Kelly Williams, Gab Banal, and Kib Montalbo.

Completing the pool are naturalized big man Angelo Kouame, Japan B. League imports Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, and Juan Gomez de Liaño, Overtime Elite signee LeBron Lopez, and Gilas PBA draftees William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, and Tzaddy Rangel.

Whether or not every call-up gets a chance to play, the team is fully focusing on the task at hand to end the shortened window ideally on a winning note, starting with world No. 80 India on Friday, February 25 at 6 pm.

“Over the years right before our eyes, we’ve seen India develop and grow into a legitimate basketball competitor. Their skills have tremendously improved,” Reyes said.

“A couple of guys there, we’ve seen them for 10-11 years. You can imagine the kind of chemistry and familiarity they’ve built with each other. That alone is a cause for us to make sure that we’ll take our best to be able to compete against them,” he concluded.

Gilas will then wrap up its window against world No. 27 New Zealand on Sunday, February 27 at 7 pm. – Rappler.com

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