Chot Reyes returns as Gilas coach

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Chot Reyes (far right) with Manny V. Pangilinan and Manny Pacquiao during the Philippines’ last pitch to bag the hosting rights of the 2019 FIBA World Cup at the Prince Park Tower Hotel in Tokyo, Japan in August 7, 2015. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Chot Reyes (far right) with Manny V. Pangilinan and Manny Pacquiao during the Philippines’ last pitch to bag the hosting rights of the 2019 FIBA World Cup at the Prince Park Tower Hotel in Tokyo, Japan in August 7, 2015. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) senior adviser to the president Ricky Vargas announced the reappointment of Vincent “Chot” Reyes as head coach of Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team on Tuesday.

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The SBP, led by its president Al Panlilio and chairman Senator Sonny Angara, said that Gilas coach Tab Baldwin would assume his old position as team consultant.

“He (Reyes) doesn’t loss the coaching touch. He stays in touch with all the Gilas Cadet players and hold a very good relationship with them which serves as his biggest strength,” Vargas told The Manila Times in a phone interview. “In terms of coaching technicality, he still has it.”

“We welcome his appointment and that’s a collective decision from our part in the SBP.”

Gilas Pilipinas team manager and SBP Deputy Director for International Affairs Butch Antonio said that Reyes, being the coach of Gilas, would not be in conflict with his other job as president of television network TV5.

“We already thought about it and we believed coach Chot can do both task. I’m pretty sure he’ll have a good staff for TV5 and Gilas. Maybe, he can do the corporate work in the morning until the afternoon and then Gilas basketball practice in the evening,” Antonio said.

“We’re just going to the same old set up during the 2013 to 2014 when Tab Baldwin served as team consultant of Coach Chot. We didn’t find any problem with that,” added Antonio. “For the part of Baldwin, he remains a part of Gilas.”

Vargas said that the association valued Reyes’ huge contribution to Gilas Pilipinas when he led the team back to the FIBA World Cup two years ago in Spain following the squad’s first runner up finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia men’s basketball championship in Manila.

“During the time of Reyes, the term ‘puso’ became viral all over the nation and became meaningful in the international scene especially in the 2014 FIBA World Cup and 2013 FIBA Asia,” added Vargas. “At the same time, his contribution to Philippine basketball is huge.”

Despite Gilas Pilipinas finishing seventh in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Vargas said they decided to rehire Reyes because of his experience as national coach.

“We considered the totality of coach Chot’s performance,” said Vargas. “What happened in the last Asian Games is only a minor setback compared to what he has done to Philippine basketball. MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) has a blessing of coach’s reappointment.”

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios, a former commissioner of the Philippine Basketball Association, said the relegation of Baldwin to national team consultant from being head coach is collective decision of the management.

“It is a call of top management,” Barrios said during an interview. “When Baldwin was serving as a team consultant while Chot was the head coach, Gilas Pilipinas made it to the FIBA World Cup and finished first runner-up in the FIBA Asia.”

“I think the top management based its decision on the winning combination of that set up and among other set ups,” added Barrios. “We are hoping that magic set up will work positively again. It is really a preparation for one Olympic cycle in the new FIBA calendar.”

“This is not just for one tournament preparation but of course our target is to reach the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

After the 2014 Asian Games, Reyes was replaced by Baldwin as Gilas coach.

Under Baldwin, Gilas finished first runner-up in the 2015 FIBA Asia behind champion China and made it to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July hosted by the Philippines.

Gilas, however, lost to France and New Zealand in that tournament and failed to secure a Rio Olympics berth.

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