Chot Reyes apologizes for poor Gilas performance in Fiba World Cup


Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes during the Fiba World Cup classification game against South Sudan. –MARLO CUETO/

Chot Reyes has said it before. He’s saying it again.

The Gilas Pilipinas head coach is sorry.

“I’ve [apologized to fans] numerous times. I’ve already said I’m really sorry that we were not able to deliver and I take full accountability. I take full responsibility,” Reyes said on Thursday after a heartbreaking 87-68 loss to South Sudan in their Fiba World Cup classification duel.

Fans have singled out Reyes as the main cause of the Philippines’ disappointing show in the World Cup and the champion coach admitted that the team failed to meet people’s expectations.

“This was a time for us to win, to execute the learning. It was supposed to happen way back. This was a time for us to win and execute and like I said, we didn’t get the job done,” he said.

Compounding the loss was Japan’s 86-77 victory over Venezuela just moments before South Sudan wrapped up the win against the Filipinos.

That meant the Philippines was out of the running for an outright Olympic berth.

Gilas Pilipinas was doomed by a slow start and what Reyes called the team’s “worst game” in the tournament.

“I don’t think anything much needs to be said. We played our worst game when it counted the most. That early burst by South Sudan…tremendous fightback by the guys, but we spent too much energy in trying to claw back and didn’t have enough to finish it,” Reyes said in the postgame press conference. “It’s unfortunate that this was the time for us to shoot below 40% from the field. Couldn’t make shots, so I guess that’s the story.”

After trailing as many as 21 points in the first half, Dwight Ramos and Jordan Clarkson sparked the Philippines to trim the deficit to just four, 60-56.

Kai Sotto capped that run with a highlight dunk off a lob from AJ Edu with 7:28 left in the match.

But South Sudan made the right adjustments and kept the home team at bay to prevail in their classification match.

“Unfortunate. We knew this was the game we absolutely had to win because somebody would get the wins. That’s why I’m very, very disappointed. I’m not surprised Japan won, that’s why I knew this was the game we really, absolutely had to get. There goes our Olympic dreams for now for this World Cup,” said Reyes.

The two-time World Cup coach admitted that the team’s morale is “very, very down” but he stressed that they have to lick their wounds and prepare for their final game against China on Saturday at the Big Dome.

Kiefer Ravena Gilas Pilipinas Fiba World Cup

Gilas Pilipinas huddles up during a game against South Sudan in the Fiba World Cup classification. -MARLO CUETO/

“Our job is to get everyone ready now for the next game, and that has to start with our mindset and our emotional hearts as well. We just like to say that as difficult and as disappointing the campaign has been so far, I’m still very proud of the effort,” Reyes said.

“The guys put themselves on the line. Fought our best. Unfortunately, things did not go our way. The only thing we can do now is just focus on the next. There’s one more game to be played. We’ll prepare as well as we can to again put up a fight against China on Saturday.”

Reyes reportedly already apologized to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan after their underwhelming performance in the country’s hosting of the World Cup.

Reyes said he is leaving his fate up to the SBP. But regardless of the decision of the federation, he believes that the future is bright for Gilas with AJ Edu, Kai Sotto, and Dwight Ramos forming a young national team core.

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