NOT a few people were surprised by Ryan Reyes' inclusion in the 17-man training pool of Gilas Pilipinas for next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
So is Reyes.
Reyes is coming off an injury-riddled season for Talk ‘N Text which saw the 32-year-old Fil-Am hurting his Achilles during the finals of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup finals.
Still, not even the limited action could discourage national coach Tab Baldwin from naming him as part of the Gilas pool that began its weekly training last Monday at the Meralco gym.
In all honesty, Reyes said he is just as perplexed to see his name on the elite list.
“I myself was surprised,” admitted a smiling Reyes following the light workout he had with the entire all-pro team that netted a perfect attendance with the exception of injured ‘stretch 4’ Ranidel De Ocampo.
“I’m just honored that coach Tab put my name on the list. I guess he sees something that I have which can benefit the team.”
When healthy, Reyes is no doubt one of the league’s premier backcourt defenders who also is a reliable gunner.
It’s that same factor which convinced Sta. Lucia to pick him third overall during the 2007 rookie draft and two years later, for coach Yeng Guiao to tab him as part of the Powerade-Philippine team that made the quarterfinals of the Fiba-Asia Championship in Tianjin, China.
Now back in harness, the 32-year-old Reyes admitted he only started running again five months following his recovery from the Achilles injury although he’s slowly rounding into form.
And that’s exactly why he’s very grateful to Baldwin – who also happens to be a Talk ‘N Text consultant – for having trust in what he can do for Gilas.
“I’ll try to stay healthy and see what I can do and try to make the (national) team again,” said the soft-spoken guard. “It’s always an honor to be chosen to represent the country.”
Gilas will be practicing every Monday for the next 26 weeks before making it a daily grind by late May or just two months before the July 4-10 qualifiers.
Reyes isn’t raising his expectations on being named as part of the final 12-man lineup of Baldwin, but just the same, his support for the national team won’t waver.
“If (I don’t make it), I’ll continue to support the national team with coach Tab and all the players,” he said.