COACH Chot Reyes remained defiant on Thursday night, saying he still likes Gilas Pilipinas' chances of winning the gold medal in the Asian Games despite being forced to make several changes to his lineup after the decision to disqualify Andray Blatche became final.
Speaking just minutes after Incheon organizers turned down a last-ditch Philippine appeal to reinstate Blatche, Reyes said he has no reason to lose faith in a Gilas team that has survived the most formidable odds in a run that led to a breakthrough victory in the last Fiba World Cup.
And he won't dare start doubting Gilas' heart now, Reyes added.
"I still like our chances, humirap nga lang ang laban with Blatche out," the Gilas coach told Spin.ph. "Pero alam mo naman ang team na ito, hindi bumibitaw. So laban lang ng laban."
Reyes said the biggest challenge now is on how to whip Marcus Douthit into game shape after the Olympic Council of Asia allowed Gilas' longtime naturalized player to take the place of Blatche in the lineup.
Douthit has been practicing with the team from the time Gilas started its Fiba World Cup buildup all the way to its last game in Spain, but Reyes pointed out that there's a big difference between being in shape and being in game shape.
"The challenge now is on how to put Marcus in shape in one week," said Reyes. "Remember, Marcus has been practicing with us since the start (of the World Cup buildup), but there's a difference between being in shape and being in game shape."
Jimmy Alapag, who Reyes has convinced to hold off retirement for one last run with Gilas in Incheon, has taken the place of Jayson Castro in the team but the national coach said that decision is not cast in stone.
"We still have until the eve of the managers' meeting on September 19 to make changes to the lineup, so why box ourselves in a corner when we can still decide until then," said the multi-titled coach.
However, Reyes admitted that the injury sustained by Castro in Spain, which forced him to sit out the final game against Senegal, was "pretty serious."
"It was serious enough for him to sit out the Senegal game," said Reyes, explaining that Castro was nursing a strained Achilles that also put a lot of pressure on his knee.
Aside from Castro, Paul Lee and Marc Pingris are also bothered by plantar fasciitis - injuries that will be assessed before the final lineup is decided upon, Reyes said.
Still, Reyes said the biggest adjustment should be in the game plan since Gilas has been playing together for the past month with Blatche - and had expected to go to the Asiad with the NBA player in the lineup.
Gilas now needs to 'redo' all that as it prepares to go to war against regional rivals Iran and Korea in Incheon with Douthit now holding the fort inside.
"We also need to make a lot of adjustments because all this time, we've done our preparations with the thought that Blatche would be with us in Incheon. So we need to redo all that. Hindi madaling gawin 'yan," Reyes said.
"Pero hindi madali 'yan. You have to realize that Iran and Korea are also coming off the World Cup and they will be fielding intact lineups for the Asian Games. Tayo, we have one week to make the adjustments."