Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes reiterated his call to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to find a convenient way in allowing teams to release their players for a longer preparation in the upcoming International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asian Qualifiers third window in June or in any other overseas tournaments.
After beating Japan (89-84) in their rematch at the second window at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Sunday, Reyes said he wants to have a longer preparation and practices with the players although it is hard for now due to the game schedules and practices with their respective PBA teams.
“We have to talk to the PBA. It is fortunate the Commissioner (Willie Marcial) and I have an open line. We keep calling and talking to each other,” said Reyes. “But this kind of preparation, as you can see, is not going to cut it. I mean moving forward we really need to find a better way than what currently is going on.”
Reyes is thankful the PBA teams have allowed Gilas to pick more than one player per team but it isn’t enough.
“We love the fact that they opened it up. We can get more than one player per team but without any practice that is useless,” Reyes explained. “I rather go back to one player per team but have a practice and that’s fine than you can get as much as you want but there is no practice.”
“In terms of the preparation for the third window, I cannot tell you anything because it is a continous progress,” said Reyes, whose Gilas team will be playing in the third window against Taiwan on June 29 and Australia on July 2.
Reyes, meanwhile, defended naturalized player Andray Blatche for all criticisms after posting only eight points and seven rebounds in a 68-84 loss to Australia last Wednesday’s game in Melbourne at the start of the first window.
“I’m just telling everybody that we are taking a look at everything, but Andray is our guy,” said Reyes of Blatche who had 18 points and 16 rebounds though committed five turnovers in a win against Japan.
“I don’t think we can play a team like Australia if we didn’t have Andray and we could have lost by 30 points easily.”
“I hope that puts to rest all this talk about Andray. For those of you who really know his value, Andray makes us competitive regardless of what his numbers or what the stats show.”
So far, the Philippines is already qualified for the second round with a 3-1 win-loss record along with unbeaten Australia (4-0) and Taiwan (1-3) in Group B bracket.
After the third window of the first round in June, only 12 of the 16 teams in four groups will advance to the second round starting in September.