CHOT Reyes on Friday was left to rue his call to leave out Jared Dillinger in the endgame of Smart Gilas 2.0's match against China's 'B' team in the Fiba-Asia Cup in Tokyo, admitting it was the "wrong decision."
Dillinger, the only addition to the team that won the Jones Cup last month, had provided the spark off the bench as he led a strong second-half fightback that enabled Gilas to wipe out an 11-point deficit and wrest an eight-point lead, 64-56, going into the final six minutes and 32 seconds.
However, the high-energy guard asked to be taken out in the final five minutes while complaining of a bruised knee he suffered during one fastbreak play and Reyes opted not to gamble on Dillinger in the endgame -- a decision he ended up regretting later.
“He asked to be taken out,” said Reyes of his decision to take Dillinger out.
With Dillinger on the bench, China's young players went on a late tear, outscoring Gilas 11-0 during one stretch and 15-4 over the final five minutes to escape with the come-from-behind victory.
“In the end, I stayed with the five [players] that had been very effective all throughout for me,” said Reyes in his post-game interview. “Apparently, it was the wrong decision.”
Dillinger, who took his place in the team after Solomon Mercado was ruled ineligible for the Tokyo tournament, contributed eight points and was clearly the best player in a Gilas team that made just 35 percent of its shots, missed 10 freethrows and was outrebounded by 27 by the Chinese.
“Sayang! Got outrebounded by 27, shot 35% FG, missed 10 FTs, & only lost by 3. Need to coach a better game tom,” Reyes tweeted later on his account @coachot.
Dillinger stayed positive after the loss as he asked the team to focus on Saturday's match against Lebanon.
He tweeted on his account @JDHawaii20 "We will make adjustments. Long way to go. Stay positive guys. Focus on Lebanon."
Jones Cup MVP LA Tenorio, who along with Jeff Chan missed three-point tries in the dying seconds that could have sent the game into overtime, said the heartbreaking setback was a learning experience for the team.
“We had the lead, but we committed too many mistakes (in the stretch),” Tenorio said. “We learned a lot in this game and hopefully, we can use that to bounce back.”