REMEMBER three factors - namely 'small ball,' 2020 Olympics, and Australia - if you dare to venture a guess on the players that Chot Reyes is bound to pick for the latest iteration of Gilas Pilipinas.
Reyes revealed that while some things will not change as he sets out for another tour of duty with the national team, he admitted the dynamics of his selection of players will be a lot different from the last time he coached Gilas in 2014.
Returning to the hot seat to replace Tab Baldwin, the five-time PBA Coach of the Year said in terms of philosophy, he prefers to stick, with certain adjustments, of course, to the 'small ball' concept he used with considerable success in his first run with Gilas until 2014.
"There has to be some changes, but essentially we're going to be a 'small ball' playing team," Reyes told SPIN.ph. "Dribble drive is still best, and most suited, system for a Philippine team. Tayo naman ang nagpa-uso n'yang (small ball), nagsunuran na lang ang mga iba."
Reyes' first order of business is to pick the PBA players that will join the pre-drafted Gilas cadets in his new pool under the parameters set by the pro league board, which agreed to release a player each per team. Ballclubs can also lend more than a player to Gilas if they wish to.
However, the long-delayed announcement of the schedule of the next Seaba tournament - which is the Southeast Asian qualifier for the Fiba Asia championships - has messed up the schedule of Gilas, delaying the process of selecting the players.
All other tournaments that Gilas is set to compete in for the year are already set - the Fiba Asia, which runs from August 15-27, may coincide with the SEA Games, while the World Cup qualifiers will likely take place in November.
Notwithstanding the delay, Reyes said he is set to sit down with his coaching staff and start putting together his pool and make an announcement before the end of the month.
The first phase of training - likely to be once-a-week practices similar to those held during Balwin's time - is expected to commence in February, Reyes added.
"Hindi ko pag masyado pinagiisipan," the multi-titled coach, who is concurrently president of TV5, said when asked about his selection of PBA players. "I still have to sit down with the coaches."
Reyes, though, admitted that a reconfigured Fiba Asia zone that now includes world power Australia and New Zealand and a long-term program aimed at qualifying for the Olympics will greatly influence his selection of players.
So much so that Reyes expects 'only a few' veterans of his 2013 and 2014 teams to make it to the new Gilas pool.
Same goes for the Baldwin team that took part in the Olympic qualifiers last year.
"It's hard to put a number, but just a few," said Reyes.
Reyes pointed out that the goal is to put together a group of players who will hopefully be at the peak of their careers come the 2019 World Cup in China, all but ruling out senior members of the Gilas team that finished runner-up to Iran in the 2013 Fiba Asia in Manila.
Baldwin's side was also laden with veterans like Asi Taulava, Dondon Hontiveros, Ranidel De Ocampo, and Jayson Castro, who has since announced his international retirement.
"Remember, we're preparing for three years down the line. The goal is to be the best-placed Asian team in 2019 (World Cup), because we want to go to the Olympics," Reyes said.
With tall teams from Australia and New Zealand now part of the Fiba Asia equation, Reyes said it is all the more imperative for Gilas to amplify its strengths, meaning its quickness and outside shooting.
"Ganoon pa rin, we should be fast, play run and gun, shoot a lot of threes," the Gilas coach said. "So we need players who are versatile, can play multiple positions, and can run. Kaya nga andyan ang mga cadets eh."
Reyes said he's keeping an open mind entering the selection process.
"I'm watching a lot of PBA games. I have a very open mind about this," said Reyes, who added that tapping Andray Blatche as Gilas' naturalized player is the first option - that is, unless a clash in schedule will necessitate a change.