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Chot: ‘We improved in our placing, overall performance’

One week after Gilas Pilipinas punctuated its 2023 FIBA World Cup campaign with a 21-point win over long-time Asian powerhouse China, former coach Chot Reyes feels the Philippine team has “improved in terms of playing and overall performance” since the 2014 edition in Seville, Spain.


The outspoken former Gilas coach said finishing 24th place this year, compared to its winless campaign in 2019 en route to a last-place finish at 32nd, was much better already.

The 1-4 record also equalizes the record the Gilas side registered during the Philippines' return to the world stage in 2014 when the national team still had Andray Blatche as its naturalized player.

“I think we improved from 2014 and 2019, the performance of the team finishing now 24 out of 32 is a marked improvement from our last participation (in 2019 and even in 2014,” Reyes told veteran sports analyst Quinito Henson in his Youtube sports channel PlayitRight TV over the weekend.

“I thought we improved in our placing and overall performance.”

But the 60-year-old Filipino mentor also was frank enough to admit the 24th place was not the team's objective when they started preparing for the World Cup last June.

“We were not able to achieve what we were mandated to do which was to get to the Olympics by being the best-placed Asian nation,” he stressed. “Sure we got a qualifying slot in the Qualifying Tournament but the mission for which we were hired to perform, which was to be the best placed Asian nation, we didn't achieve. So on that note we were not successful.”

Reyes drew much of the flak for the Philippine team's winless campaign in the group stage that saw Gilas drop a narrow 81-87 loss to the Dominican Republic on opening night, witnessed before a new FIBA World Cup record crowd of over 38,000 fans at the Philippine Arena.

The Philippines also bowed to Angola, 90-80 in a highly-physical game, before succumbing to world no. 10 Italy at the close of the group stage match.

South Sudan, then slammed the door on Gilas' hopes of being the best-placed Asian squad whe it scored a decisive 87-68 win in the classification round.

With no hopes to secure an automatic Olympic slot for one Asian team, Reyes admitted egging the players during the last Gilas practice prior to the game against China to simply come out hard.

“I told them, this (China) game means a lot for you, for the players, for your individual careers as players, so don't worry about me,” Reyes said, in recalling that post-practice huddle he had with the team.

“Think about your own careers, if you continue to do well and beat china, look at how it means to you Dwight (Ramos), Rhenz (Abando) AJ (Edu).”

Playing free from worry and more relaxed, the pep talk worked wonders as Gilas exploded in the second half, behind Jordan Clarkson's 34 points, going 11-of-17 from the floor, including five triples, to go along with three assists and two rebounds as he made sure the Philippines won't go winless in the World Cup.

In all their struggles, Reyes said he was just glad to see the Gilas players adjust, and battle more seasoned foreign squads amid the late arrival of Clarkson and Kai Sotto to the team.

“We knew we would be competitive because of our pratcice, training and game plan,” said Reyes, who after the game against China, announced that he is stepping down.

“With all the problems we faced, with the lack of preparation time with key players, we knew we will be competitive. We defended well, rebounded against those teams, and found ways to score, even if they consistently shut down Jordan,” he added.

With Reyes stepping down, his Gilas assistant Tim Cone has been appointed to take his spot as the national squad prepares for the 19th Asian Games set to start this Sept. 23 in Hangzhou, China.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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