What is the true measure of success? Is it determined by one’s money or one’s position of authority? In today’s world, what defines a successful man?
Renowned professional basketball coach Chot Reyes and his life may just provide the answers. For while he is touted as one of the most powerful and intelligent coaches Philippine basketball has ever seen, his success goes beyond the hard court.
His legacy of winning has definitely put him on the map of Philippine basketball as one of the most powerful and intelligent coaches in the history of basketball.
Today, The Sunday Times Magazine learns more about the head coach of Smart-Gilas Pilipinas, not from sports analysts or star players, but from a few who matter most—his loving family.
At the age of 29, Reyes made history in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) by being the youngest coach to ever win a championship.
In his rookie year as a head coach, he led the likes of Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera and the Coney Island Ice Cream Stars to an All- Filipino Conference championship, a historical feat still standing today. The coup also marked his very first time to win a Coach of the Year award.
Touted to have the golden touch on the hard court, he stayed on with the Purefoods franchise, where he won another championship in 1994, and moved on to join the Sta. Lucia Realtors when the team hired him in 1997.
Famed for his passion for basketball, Reyes signed up with the newly formed and innovative Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), which sought to introduce “a different kind of ballgame” to the Filipino audience.
It was through this league that Reyes in turn introduced innovative rules such as the “Free Three,” the 23-second shot clock and the eight second backcourt rule. FIBA (an international basketball league) eventually adopted this very rule for their games.
Reyes returned to the PBA after the MBA’s fruitful yet brief run, and went on to coach the Pop Cola Panthers. Shortly after his comeback, he continued to make basketball history by leading rookie team Coca Cola Tigers to a remarkable 2002 PBA All- Filipino Conference Championship. Rightly so, the win earned Reyes his second Coach of the Year award.
The three consecutive years that followed landed Reyes and the Coca Cola Tigers in the finals, capped off by a reinforced championship. Naturally, Reyes won his third Coach of the Year award, as well as the distinction as the only PBA coach to achieve such an accomplishment.
Reyes took a break from the PBA and redirected his efforts putting the Philippines in the international map of basketball.
In 2005, he led Team Pilipinas to a fifth place finish in the FIBA-Asia Championships Cup; a third place in the William Jones Cup; and a 2005 Brunei Sultan Cup title. In 2006, the national team defended this title in a one of a kind seven-game sweep.
Reyes, after his international success, again returned to the PBA via team Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, which he led to three celebrated championships.
Today, Reyes is the head of Sports5, the sports division of ABC Development Corp’s TV5. He is simultaneously preparing the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas squad ready for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, which will be held in Manila.
Reyes a graduate of Ateneo De Manila University and Edinburgh Business School is also known for his excellent communication skills.
Reyes, who is married to an equally successful entrepreneur in Cherry Tiosejo-Reyes, the woman behind Essensuals Toni & Guy—is blessed with four children: Josh, Mosh, Isaiah (Ice) and Rebekah (Rookie).
Unknown to many, Reyes’ road to success met many bumps along the way, especially during his younger years.
Cherry recalls of their earlier days as a couple, “I got pregnant at age 19 and got married after Chot graduated. We put ourselves in a situation where we had to fend for ourselves very early in life. We never imagined that we would be where we are now. We also had our lows like losing jobs and marital problems, but our early struggles prepared and helped us get through those trying times.”
When asked how they survived, Cherry quickly replies, “I think what makes our relationship successful is our sense of balance—we know our roles. Chot is very intelligent and confident. He knows what he wants and goes after it. I let him do that but make sure to lend my ‘intuition’ and most importantly, we don’t forget to have fun and live in the moment.”
Without a doubt, the famed coach’s biggest fan and cheerleader is his Cherry. “I encourage him to go after what he wants and what fulfills him.”
Her unwavering support has definitely contributed greatly in molding him to become the man that he is today.
And while most people see Reyes as a strong proponent in the world of sports in the country, his four children simply know him as “Dad.”
Mosh, 24, a graduate of Information Design from the Ateneo De Manila University says of the family’s home life, “Growing up with our Dad was so chill; he’s like a barkada to us we all have good memories with him.”
Isaiah, 22, who is a celebrated athlete in both Track & Field and Basketball, goes on to describe his father: “My dad is very different from when you see him on the court. He’s very cool and is up to date with the latest trends in music, TV and even fashion.”
Rebekah, 18, his only daughter, speaks of the close bond between them: “I am a daddy’s girl or as he calls me, his “princess.” He makes it a point as much as possible to be able to relate to his kids a lot.”
Reyes, who is also a sought after motivational speaker, walks the talk at home by fostering an environment where his children are able to flourish in fields they are passionate about.
Mosh recalls a time when he wanted to be a geographer: “I had this odd dream of becoming a geographer and so my dad would keep asking me interesting questions, and let me in on certain trivia about the world.
“I remember being always in awe and would research about all of it. My dad always had his own way of keeping us interested in our dreams. He has this way of fueling us to achieve our desires.”
He adds, “My dad would always say that our family is the foundation of all our dreams. My dad always supported us in everything we wanted to pursue.”
Rebekah, who is an incoming freshman, also at the Ateneo, agrees, “He tells us to be wise and open minded about things but most of all, we must go with what makes us the happiest. And he would always make sure that we love what we do.”
Isaiah, who has dabbled in basketball, never felt the pressure to live up to his dad. “He definitely is my greatest influence, but never did he impose anything on me. The only thing he would always tell me is to always give it my all.”
Isaiah is quick to add that even though he and his older brother, Josh, who is an assistant coach for the FEU Tamaraws, Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and Smart-Gilas Pilipinas, are in the same field, they never felt intimidated by their father’s success, but rather encouraged by it.
Rebekah agrees, “The one thing we admire most about our dad is how passionate he is in everything he does. He is a hard worker and his passion is very evident. He truly enjoys what he does and that is admirable to all four of us.”
For the Reyes children, their father is truly an action man both on and off the hard court. At home, his words and deeds, they say, effectively show them how much he loves them.
Mosh notes, “My dad is a busy man, but despite that, he never lost time for us. He never missed having breakfast with us before school and he always takes my mom out on dates.
His love and faithfulness towards mom is inspiring to all of us. He has always been ‘super dad’ to me.”
All four kids insist that one of the greatest life lessons they learned from “Super Dad” is his ability to laugh through anything.
“The best thing about him is his sense of humor. A lot of people only see him as the serious guy on court, but off it, he’s hilarious. He loves making people laugh and he would always be the life of the party. My dad can make us laugh through anything, including the toughest of times.”
When asked what they think their father’s greatest success is, Mosh is quick to respond, “My dad is successful in many, many ways but we believe that he is truly most successful with his family.”
With the love and admiration his children lavish on him, Chot Reyes has certainly won the grand slam where it matters most.