Newly-reinstalled Gilas Pilipinas head coach Vincent “Chot” Reyes believes retired national players Jayson Castro and Ranidel De Ocampo of Talk ‘N Text, and Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine would come out from retirement to play for the national team early next year.
Reyes, who also serves as chief executive officer and president of TV 5, returned as Gilas coach after replacing former coach Tab Baldwin, who was relegated to his old post as team consultant. He first became a Gilas coach in 2012 replacing Serbian Rajko Toroman before Baldwin took his post in 2014.
“If Manny Pacquiao was able to return in boxing just a few months after announcing his retirement, I’m sure Jayson (Castro) can also comeback for the national team,” Reyes told reporters during a press lunch on Wednesday at the Shangrila Fort in Taguig City.
“That’s the best guard in Asia since the last four years until somebody takes it away from him,” added Reyes. “It is just easy to come out from retirement. Gabe (Norwood) also.”
Castro, Norwood and De Ocampo had announced their retirement from the national team during the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament last July. Gilas lost to France and New Zealand during the course of that weeklong tournament.
Reyes also said the first practice of the national men’s basketball team would most likely take place early next year since the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 will start on November 20. All the drafted rookies including the Gilas players will be practicing for their respective PBA teams.
“The cadets will be drafted on Sunday and we’re going to give them enough time to practice for their respective teams. Most likely, our first practice will be early next year,” said Reyes. “We are just going to find a schedule.”
Reyes said coaching the national team would always be a top priority.
“I’ve retired from professional coaching, but I haven’t retired from serving my country and coaching Gilas is the way of serving my country,” he added. “So when it was offered to me again, I can’t resist of serving my country again.”
Asked about the plan of getting another naturalized player aside from 6’10 Andray Blatche, Reyes said: “Tapping another naturalized player is a long process and it takes a lot of time. But if given a chance, I’m looking for a European 7-footer who can shoot threes and play alongside June Mar Fajardo.”