CHOT Reyes will most likely stick with the core of his Jones Cup-winning Gilas Pilipinas side given a short buildup time for the Fiba-Asia Men's Basketball Championship, but will experiment and bring in several crucial pieces if granted the luxury of a longer preparation.
That was the prevailing consensus among league insiders as Reyes awaits PBA commissioner Chito Salud's formula for a rejigged league season, which would determine how much time the Gilas coach will have with a complete team in the run-up to the Manila tournament in August.
“Kailangan ko muna kasing makita kung ano ang programa na ibibigay ng PBA," said the multi-titled coach when asked on Tuesday about his probable lineup for the tournament. "Gaano ko ba katagal pwedeng makasama yung mga players at ano ang parameters ng paghiram?”
Reyes is expected to hold once-a-week practices once he chooses the members of the Gilas pool this month, but on when he can have the team practicing together on a more frequent basis will depend on Salud's decision which he is expected to announce within the week.
Salud is currently weighing two options based on his discussions with the board: Postpone the season-ending Governors Cup until after the Fiba-Asia tournament, or hold its elimination round in May and June, call for a league break, then hold the playoffs after the Fiba-Asia tournament.
The first option will have the players being turned over to Gilas after the All-Star game in the first week of May, giving Reyes at least three months to prepare for battle. The second option will mean less than two months of preparation for the Gilas team.
Reyes said he has already laid down several programs - "I've readied as much as 55 programs," he joked - while awaiting the decision of Salud and the league board, the composition of the team depending entirely on the length of his preparation for the tournament.
With a short lead time, league insiders expect Reyes to stay with the players who have already spent a lot of time together while helping Gilas win the Jones Cup in Taipei and finish fourth in the Fiba-Asia Cup in Tokyo, with only minor changes.
On the other hand, a three-month preparation will give Reyes enough time to to bring in several players he has long coveted for the team - among them Marc Pingris, June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Jason Castro, and Greg Slaughter - and develop team chemistry.
Reyes remained tight-lipped on his choices on Monday, preferring to wait for Salud's announcement.
“Hindi ko pa kasi alam kung anong klaseng team ang bubuuin ko," said the league's only five-time Coach of the Year. "Pag alam ko na kung gaano katagal at ano pa ang pwedeng tulong (ng PBA), dun pa lang ako magsasabi."