A healthy Ryan Reyes can still make big difference for Gilas. So says top PBA coach
Ryan Reyes, one of only three players who remain with the national team from the pre-Gilas days along with Norwood and Ranidel de Ocampo, is ironically, playing without any health issues that has hounded him in his pro career at a time when injuries heavily plagued the training pool of coach Baldwin. Jerome Ascano

RYAN Reyes may be the most unheralded in the bevy of backcourt men coach Tab Baldwin has at his disposal in the Gilas Pilipinas pool.

But the tough Fil-Am guard has found an ardent backer for his inclusion in the final rooster of the national team set to go to battle in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament to be held in Manila next month.

“If he’s healthy, Ryan Reyes can do a lot for Gilas,” said coach Yeng Guiao, who’s very much familiar with the way competitions are played in the international front.

Reyes was among Guiao’s back-ups at the guard position during his time as coach of the Powerade-backed national team that saw action in the 2009 Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in Tianjin, China.

Although just a reserve in a deep backcourt rotation that had the likes of JayJay Helterbrand, Gabe Norwood, Jarred Dilinger, and Willie Miller back then, Guiao knows well enough what the 32-year-old Fil-Am guard can bring to the table, especially if he’s injury-free.

“His health has always been the issue for him, but when healthy, Ryan can always be relied upon. He can score and he can defend at the same time,” said the Rain or Shine mentor.

Reyes lets out a wide grin when SPIN.ph told to him what his former national team coach said about him.

“I thank him for that. Coach Yeng is a good guy and a good coach. What you see on the court is definitely different from what he is in person,” said Reyes of Guiao.

“Playing for him was definitely an honor.”

Reyes, one of only three players who remain with the national team from the pre-Gilas days along with Norwood and Ranidel de Ocampo, is ironically, playing without any health issues that has hounded him in his pro career at a time when injuries heavily plagued the training pool of coach Baldwin.

Commissioner’s Cup finals MVP Paul Lee is already out with a knee injury, Marcio Lassiter has not been attending practices of late owing to what appears to be a sign of bronchitis, while Jeff Chan has only resumed practice with Gilas recently owing to hurting right groin.

But the 10-year pro out of Los Angeles, California said he doesn’t wish any of the players in the pool getting injured just for the sake of him making the team.

“I wish them full recovery. I hope nothing’s serious for the good of the team,” said the third overall pick in the 2007 rookie draft.

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Just being part of the Gilas training pool, according to Reyes, is already a big honor for him.

“Whatever happens, I’ll always be here to help the team in whatever way I can,” said the three-time All Star and four-time All-Defensive team member. “Just competing with these guys, a healthy competition, is already enough for me to help improve myself as a player.” 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos