AS the saying goes, ‘players win games, coaches lose 'em.’
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes lived up to the basketball adage as he owned up to the fate suffered by the national team that finished seventh in the just concluded Fiba Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon.
Sharing his thoughts for the first time following the surprising turnaround that saw the Filipinos complete a three-game sweep of its preliminary round assignments only to falter in the quarterfinals and later, in the classification phase, Reyes said there was simply ‘no excuses’ for the disappointing end to campaign.
He was quick to admit everything was on him.
“All shortcomings are mine, so all the bashers can chill,” the national coach posted on his Instagram account a few hours after the team left the Lebanese capital for Manila on Tuesday.
The seventh-place finish marked the first time the national team failed to make the semis since the Gilas program was laid down in 2008 shortly after the Beijing Olympics.
It was also the lowest finish for the country since the national team placed eighth during the 2009 edition of the FIBA Asia in Tianjin, China before the Gilas program take effect.
Gilas kicked off its campaign in Beirut on a high note with a massive upset of deposed champion China, 96-87. It went on to beat Iraq and Qatar for a perfect 3-0 sweep of its preliminary-round campaign and topped Pool B for an outright berth in the knockout quarterfinals.
Then disaster struck.
The Filipinos found themselves matched up against longtime tormentor South Korea in a do-or-die game where unfortunately, things didn't go their way as they lost heavily, 118-86.
Relegated to the classification phase, Gilas suffered a second straight setback at the hands of host Lebanon, 106-87, consigning the Filipinos to the battle for seventh place in which they beat Jordan, 75-70, during the final day of the tournament.
Although the team failed to achieve its goal, Reyes said the entire team should still be commended for everything that they’ve gone through.
“While we failed to get to the semis, I hope everyone acknowledges the effort and sacrifice these #GilasMen put forth,” he said. “Despite the obstacles and difficulties of putting a team together, we continue to put our necks on the line.”
In the end, Reyes mentioned how grateful he was to Filipino basketball fans and supporters for all the support they’ve extended Gilas through good and bad times.
“To those who continue supporting regardless – maraming-maraming salamat. You don’t know how much your message of support mean to us,” said the Gilas mentor.
“This is what keeps us going – to fight till we can’t fight anymore. For our country. With all our hearts.”