Chot Reyes plays down revenge angle as rivals Gilas, Taipei meet again in Jones Cup
Ray Parks is one of the few bright spots for Gilas in the loss to Canada. Photo courtesy of CTBA

TAIPEI - The last time Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei crossed paths, Chot Reyes saw his national side blow a late lead against the Taiwanese before stunned home fans in the 2013 Fiba-Asia championships in Manila.

Yet revenge will be furthest from Reyes' mind when the two old rivals meet again, this time with the Taiwanese holding home-court advantage, in the main game of a five-match playdate in the 39th Jones Cup on Sunday at the Taipei Hening Gymnasium here.

"Wala na 'yon, tagal na noon," said the national coach.

Besides, Reyes has a lot more on his mind than settling an old score as he goes about his business of whipping a young, inexperienced Gilas side to shape in time for the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur in August and the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon.

On Saturday night, Reyes got a good idea on the enormity of the task at hand when his new-look Gilas side turned the ball over one too many times and - except perhaps for Matthew Wright - couldn't seem to shoot straight in an opening 77-90 loss to a Canadian selection.

"For sure, if we turn the ball over like the last time (against Canada), mapapalaban tayo d'yan," said Reyes after a game that saw Gilas turn the ball over 22 times and give up 40 free throws to a tall and grizzled Canadian side.

"But if we can take care of the ball and defend more intelligently, I think we have a chance," Reyes added.

[See Canada coach on young Gilas side: 'I will be afraid to play against their best players']

Reyes lingered around to watch Taipei Blue, which is basically the country's Team A, play impressively in its tournament debut against Japan.

Not only did the hosts handily beat Japan, 86-65, but Reyes' attention was also drawn to several Taipei players who didn't play in the game but will most likely be unleashed against Gilas. 

"Dami pa nilang nakatago o, ayun nakaupo sa likod ng bench," said Reyes grinning.

Taipei also goes to the Gilas game enjoying good form, having recently ruled the East Asian Basketball Championship for the first time. Local journalists, however, admit both China and South Korea didn't send their best teams to the Japan event.

But Gilas and its undersized frontline is sure to have its hands full against Taipei, which will be led by naturalized player Quincy Davis and sweet-shooting big man Cheng Liu.

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Reyes, however, expects Gilas to play a lot better against the host team, saying the beating it took from Canada will serve as a wake-up call for a squad made up of PBA rookies mixed with amateur standouts like Kobe Paras and Kiefer Ravena.

"At least now, nakita na nila na ang mga kalaban nila mas malalaki sa kanila, kasing bilis rin nila, kasing lakas nila, so (they know) that it takes a really different kind of effort (to win)."

Sunday's grudge match also serves as a preview for the two nations' clash in November at the launch of the new home-and-away format of the World Cup qualifiers. 

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