CHOT Reyes is well aware of the major sacrifices the PBA has already done for national interest.
But at the same time, he also expressed how imperative international exposure will be for Team Pilipinas before it goes to war in the coming FIBA World Cup.
Reyes recalled how it served the national team in good stead the exhibition matches it played against some of the world basketball powers prior to its campaign in the 2014 edition of the so-called Olympics of basketball.
The former national coach, who now serves as president of ESPN 5, stressed that playing against the likes of France, Australia, Ukraine, among others, toughened up the Filipinos for the actual competitions in Spain.
“We played very strong teams. Binugbog kami ng Ukraine, Australia. Then we went to France and played Venezuela and Dominican Republic. That toughened us up,” said Reyes shortly before he was honored by the PBA on Wednesday for the major role he played for Team Pilipinas during the entire FIBA World Cup qualifiers along with coaching staff Jong Uichico, Josh Reyes, and Ryan Betia.
“And I think that feeling spilled over sa actual World Cup. So pagdating nung actual na laban, the players have a very good feeling about themselves.”
Gilas Pilipinas did give powerhouse teams such as Croatia, Argentina, and Puerto Rico a run for their money, although its lone victory came at the expense of Senegal and failed to advance in the round of 16.
“So it’s very important for this team to get that same feeling going into the competition. They should have a good feeling about themselves, that they can compete with anybody, with those teams that they are playing,” said Reyes.
Although aware that Team Pilipinas going out of the country and play in tune-up games meant another major problem as far as the PBA scheduling is concerned, Reyes stands by his belief the program would definitely benefit the national team.
He said it’s up to the league board now to discuss the matter.
“Malaking bagay talaga yun. And hopefully coach Yeng’s team gets its chance as well,” said Reyes.
Guiao initially wanted the national team to participate in the Jones Cup, but the PBA quickly balked at the idea as the annual cage tournament being held in Taipei runs for about two weeks.
Instead, the board suggested the national team plays in a pocket tournament and friendlies to be held here.
But after witnessing first-hand the World Cup draw held last week in Shenzhen, China where Team Pilipinas ended up being bracketed in Group D along with world no. 4 Serbia, Italy, and Angola, the board is again set to sit down with Guiao and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to discuss the program the national team will undertake prior to the World Cup.