PBA great Abe King has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the national team and its embattled coach, saying Chot Reyes should step aside to give basketball officials a free hand in selecting the coach of Gilas Pilipinas.
Speaking from the United States where he is now based, the former Toyota star said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' (SBP) decision to form a selection committee to pick the coach and players of the next Gilas batch should be the cue for Reyes to step down.
“Dapat talaga bigyan niya ng kalayaan 'yung committee. One plus one lang 'yun. Bumuo ng search committee, ibig sabihin may papalitan. Alangan namang may search committee tapos siya pa rin,” King told Spin.ph in an overseas telephone interview.
“Ang masasabi ko sa kanya, marami pa namang panahon para mapatunayan ang sarili niya. Pero sa ngayon, tingnan niya muna clamor ng tao. Pagbigyan niya muna ang hiling ng tao at alam na niya 'yun,” added King.
“Dapat na mag-resign na siya (sa Gilas). Delicadeza lang.”
King, who stood out as one of the best power forwards in the pro league in a 17-year career, said he also couldn't understand why SBP leaders are dilly-dallying on the current status of Reyes.
“Nag press release pa siya na andun pa rin siya. Hindi pa ba malinaw sa kanya na kaya bumubuo ng search committee para humanap ng bagong coach? Automatic na dapat na alam niya 'yun… akala ko ba matalino siya?” said King.
Interestingly, the former San Beda standout is no stranger to Reyes, having played under the coach in two Purefoods champion teams in 1993 and 1994 at the tailend of a career that was also marked by stints with Toyota, Great Taste and Gold Eagle.
“Naging coach ko 'yan. Wala siyang ginawa kundi sipain ang silya, ganun. Hindi naman siya yung masama o mahinang coach, pero maraming pwedeng humigit pa sa kanya na mag-coach,” he said.
“Ang hirap kasi sa kanya, kapit tuko siya sa pwesto niya. Hangga’t pupuwede ayaw niyang bumitaw. Dapat dyan automatic yan nagre-resign siya, bigyan ng chance ang iba."
“Dapat pakinggan na niya yung hiling ng tao, dapat pakinggan niya yung pulso ng bayan,” said King. “Wala, galit sa kanya ang tao. Lahat ng mabasa ko, lahat nang makita kong reaksyon tungkol sa kanya, galit.
“Walang natutuwang tao sa style niya sa mga nakikita sa kanya, saka kung paano niya tratuhin ang players."
Asked about the public opinion, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said that to be fair to Reyes, there are also fans who want the coach to stay on.
“The outcry is on boths ides. If you are saying there is an outcry to change him, frankly there is also an outcry to retain him … so we will not go by the outcry,” Barrios, a former commissioner, said.
“Mahirap yun eh. Baka mamaya mayroong isang tao lang ang mahilig at magaling sa internet, lalabas dalawang daan sila. Pero isang tao lang pala 'yun,” he added.
Barrios said the search committee which includes him, SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan, SBP chairman Ricky Vargas, PBA commissioner Chito Salud, PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio and PBA D-League representative and PBA vice-chairman Robert Non will convene soon to come up with a shortlist of candidates.
The suggestions of the committee will then be elevated to the SBP executive committee which will name the coach and members of the national pool.
“Let’s make it clear. Ang committee ang magbibigay ng suggestions nila. Hindi natin alam kung sino-sino ang mga ino-nominate nila. Pwedeng andun si Chot, pwedeng andun ang ibang coach,” explained Barrios.
“Tapos yung shortlist na 'yun, i-a-akyat yun sa execom kung saan yung SBP president ang may final say sa kung sino ang next coach,” he added.
“Kaya the committee is made up of top officials of basketball with their own minds and they are respected members of the basketball community… and they are the ones who will decide on it,” he said.
For podcast of full interview with Abe King, click HERE