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MANILA, Philippines – All the negativity surrounding Gilas Pilipinas took its toll on the players.
At least, that was how head coach Chot Reyes saw it, saying the jeers during the games and the calls for him to resign were a “distraction” for his wards as co-hosts Philippines endured a harrowing FIBA World Cup campaign.
Filipino fans who wanted Reyes to step down from his post made it known by booing the embattled mentor during team introductions and calling for his head on social media.
“The booing before the games, I’m used to it,” said Reyes in a mix of Filipino and English. “But they do not realize the effect on the players. The players get demoralized as well, they wonder why it happens.”
Gilas Pilipinas teetered on the brink of becoming the first World Cup home team to go winless since Colombia in 1982 as it dropped its first four games, stretching its skid to nine matches dating back to the previous edition.
While the Filipinos still ended their run on a high note by beating China on Saturday, September 2, for their first World Cup win since 2014, Reyes felt all the noise – whether warranted or not – influenced how the players performed.
“All the calls for me to resign and all of that, the players read them and they also get affected. So it affects the game, the way we play games,” said Reyes.
“It is a distraction to the team. It is not good for the team. They do not deserve it.”
No amount of booing, though, could bring Gilas Pilipinas down against China, particularly Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson.
Clarkson erupted for 34 points on a scintillating 11-of-18 shooting from the field, including a 5-of-10 clip from beyond the arc, as he steered the Nationals to a convincing 96-75 win over Team Dragon at the Araneta Coliseum.
“Filipinos still came to watch. We said let us gift them with a present. Let us make sure we end this with a gift for the Filipino people for their continued belief and their support for the team,” said Reyes.
The booing and the fans’ clamor are expected to end, with Reyes announcing after the game that he is “stepping aside” as head coach. – Rappler.com