CHOT Reyes has been around long enough to know that not all fans are happy about the turn of events that led to his return as Gilas Pilipinas coach.
'Yung mga hostile [fans], I understand what you feel," Reyes said in an interview with PTV Sports, just two days after he was appointed national coach by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) for the third time in the last nine years.
But Reyes was quick to add, "Hindi ko naman kagustuhan 'to."
Reyes was quick to banish talk that he plotted his return to the national team job and the ouster of Tab Baldwin, saying he was clueless when called to a meeting by SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and SBP president Al Panlilio.
Next thing he knew, Reyes said he was being asked to once again take over the Gilas reins.
"First of all, I expected that already," the concurrent TNT coach said when asked about the reaction of haters, "but I just want to assure everyone that I never volunteered or applied for this job. I had no inkling this will happen."
'Oust Baldwin' plot absurd
Reyes said talk that he worked to get Baldwin out of the Gilas job is absurd, pointing out that he was the one who recommended that the veteran coach be recruited into the national team program in the first place.
"There was a vacancy and someone has to do the job when it was offered to me. Di ko naman pwedeng alikuran ang tawag ng bayan. i want to assure fans that Tab is great for the job.
"Remember, I was the one who recommended Tab Baldwin here. [Now] I feel a responsibility to try to continue what he has started."
With three weeks to go before Gilas' campaign in the February window of the 2023 Fiba World Cup qualifiers, Reyes admitted the team is very much pressed for time, especially with some players new to his ways in the lineup.
"Training? Kahapon dapat start na kami," he said. "Late na late na tayo."
Asked about his plans, the five-time PBA Coach of the Year said he is still in the process of settling down as he assesses who will be available from Baldwin's old pool and the reinforcements he will need from his TNT roster.
Will we once again witness the dribble drive offense that has brought Reyes' Gilas teams success in the past?
"I dont think we have time to be able to do that," he said. "We need to find out first the talent at our disposable then we will make adjustments."
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