HWASEONG, Korea — Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said he was glad to keep the support of the players as he came under fire back home for to the team's disappointing finish in the Asian Games.
Reyes said the players reiterated their support to him in the locker room as he took the blame from fans after Gilas slumped to seventh place in the Asiad, the worst-ever by a Philippine team in the quadrennial conclave.
“From Day One, my main focus was this team and make sure that we are one team. Of course, I’m very thankful to the players for reiterating their support. But really, there is no other way. Because this team is built on strong trust and strong relationships,” said Reyes.
Reyes said he has kept a strong relationship with the players even after he blasted naturalized player Marcus Douthit after the game against Qatar for ‘quitting’ on the team.
“I have a very strong relationship with the players, including Marcus. Having strong relationships doesn’t always mean a rosy relationship. That’s why the players reiterated their support,” Reyes said.
Reyes also had a talk with his players one by one after the win over Mongolia.
“I thanked the players individually. I just told them that hopefully the lessons I learned here in this journey is going to help them out not only in their careers but in their life, with their respective PBA teams, with their families, and whatever it is they want to do in the future.
“I reminded them to swing for the fences. Every time you are facing a big endeavor with a project or a big choice in your life, don’t play safe. Swing for the fences. And that’s the Gilas story,” said Reyes.
Despite the seventh place finish, Reyes said he was happy with the effort of his players.
“We didn’t play safe. We played all out, understanding that if we failed, then it’s also going to be a big failure. But at least, we can tell ourselves that we tried,” said Reyes.
“Like our chairman (Manny V. Pangilinan) said, we report the results with our heads bowed, not in shame but in sadness. Because there is nothing shameful about doing your best,” said Reyes.