Sun. Sep 24th, 2023

Gilas Pilipinas heart Kai Sotto scores towards China within the Fiba World Cup. -MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.web

(Final of a collection)

Even after a baffling Fiba World Cup homestand, former nationwide coach Chot Reyes is steadfast in his perception that the Gilas Pilipinas program is sound.

Structurally, not less than.

“The inspiration has been laid. The gamers are there, the dimensions is there,” he advised the Inquirer on Wednesday, referring to the dual towers of Kai Sotto and AJ Edu.

Reinforcing that perception is the truth that the 21-year-old Sotto and the 23-year-old Edu are surrounded by a bevy of noteworthy gamers that may develop in quantity in a couple of years.

“If Kai and AJ proceed to make themselves out there, we’ve got a really robust, good, younger core of Rhenz (Abando) … Dwight (Ramos) who’re each 25 years previous,” Reyes identified. “After which up and coming from [the] Below-17, Below-18 courses: Mason Amos, Alex Konov. We have now guards out there, too, like Elijah Williams.”

After which there’s the nation’s main skilled league that continues to lend its gamers to the nationwide trigger.

“So there’s a core, after which the PBA continues to additionally make its core out there. I feel the inspiration has been laid,” Reyes, who has stepped down as nationwide coach, mentioned. “Structurally, we’re OK. We simply must proceed working collectively.”

All that optimism comes regardless of what he deemed a “failure” for the nationwide squad, which missed its targets of successful two video games within the international showcase and qualifying outright to the 2024 Paris Olympics. However whether or not or not that optimism might be sufficient for this system to be actually profitable is one other dialog altogether.


Reyes felt that this World Cup was a possibility to showcase this system’s strengths, particularly when it got here to having the fitting gamers for the nationwide group. However a couple of unlucky occasions received in the way in which.

“[Player availability] shouldn’t have been an issue as a result of everybody made sacrifices for this World Cup. The PBA (opened its pool of gamers), we received the gamers in Japan and Korea early. However we simply couldn’t do something concerning the availability of Jordan Clarkson,” he mentioned.

And talking of Clarkson, Reyes mentioned that the Philippines is inherently at an obstacle due to the Utah Jazz star’s incapacity to play as a neighborhood.

“Lugi talaga tayo. The [Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas] has been making an attempt to speak to Fiba about it for the longest time as a result of different groups have [players who have] no [ethnic heritage] in any respect,” he mentioned.

Clarkson traces his Filipino lineage by his grandmother Marcelina Tullao Kingsolver, who hails from Bacolor city in Pampanga province. However that, together with an Asian Video games stint from 5 years in the past, was not sufficient to persuade the worldwide physique to permit the naturalized guard to play as native in Fiba occasions.

“I feel they need to enable Jordan to play as a neighborhood as a result of he has Filipino blood, and it’s very clear, after which enable us to get a 6-foot-10 American or no matter (as a naturalized participant). I feel that can actually go a great distance for this,” mentioned Reyes.

Chris Newsome, a Filipino-American guard who was first recruited by Norman Black to play for the nationwide group, has been deemed ineligible as a neighborhood as he by no means gained a Philippine passport earlier than he was 16. He lastly received an exemption in 2022, permitting him to swimsuit up alongside Clarkson and one other naturalized participant in Justin Brownlee.

A Clarkson clearance would’ve allowed the Philippines to subject Brownlee and even Ange Kouame within the World Cup, offering the squad versatility.

Finest recourse

For now, this system’s finest recourse is to maintain counting on the absolute best expertise. One thing that Reyes was cornered into doing for many of his time with the nationwide group.

“It’s simply participant availability,” he mentioned when requested to simplify the basis reason for Gilas’ issues that bled into the World Cup.

“However participant availability is [a] ticklish [issue]. On one finish, it’s going to be a mandate of the nationwide federation [or] the leagues,” he mentioned. “[On the other end], will the gamers wish to (swimsuit up)? Or not?”

Of the 21 names recognized to coach for the World Cup, two begged off. Carl Tamayo mentioned he intends to give attention to strengthening his knee, whereas Jordan Heading prioritized rehabilitating his again. Poy Erram was a part of the coaching camp in Estonia and Lithuania however was later dominated out for the ultimate part of the preparations after going by an extended overdue knee surgical procedure.

Then there was Justine Baltazar—a two-way ahead and a fan favourite—who turned down Gilas’ two invitations in line with Reyes.

“Participant availability will cowl expertise and preparation. [But] you must be out there for an ample time the group requires. You can not say that you simply’ll be out there one week to go or two weeks,” Reyes mentioned with a sigh.

“If we began coaching at full energy as early as July 25, that may’ve made an incredible distinction in our play,” he mentioned.


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