PBA: As 'most hated man in PH basketball,' Chot Reyes takes refuge in TNT

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2022 01:55 PM

TNT head coach Chot Reyes. PBA Images
TNT head coach Chot Reyes. PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines -- In the wake of a disappointing campaign in the 31st Southeast Asian Games, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes knew there was only one way to respond to the inevitable vitriol headed his way.

Reyes had been at the helm in Hanoi when the national team failed to defend its gold medal, losing to Indonesia in their final game to settle for silver. It was a painful result, as the Philippines has been the dominant power in Southeast Asian basketball, winning SEA Games gold for 13 consecutive tournaments.

The reaction was swift and understandable: Filipino basketball fans heaped most of the blame on Reyes and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP). Calls for Reyes to step down from his post inundated social media.

"With that loss, I am today the most hated man in Philippine basketball," Reyes said wryly on Sunday.

The coach revealed that he did not give himself a break upon their arrival from Vietnam, instead going straight to TNT practice and putting his attention into their build-up for the 2022-23 PBA Philippine Cup.

Moreover, Reyes has stayed "logged off" from all social media. Before Monday, his last tweet was posted on May 16 ahead of the SEA Games.

Reyes believes these decisions are paying off as he can focus on the jobs he has to juggle, while also avoiding most of the social media criticism directed at him.

"Upon my arrival… I went straight to Talk 'N Text practice," said Reyes, who steered the Tropang GIGA to a season-opening win on Sunday night against the Magnolia Hotshots at the Araneta Coliseum.

"For me, it was really the gift of busyness. Just keeping myself busy, and preoccupied and doing my other stuff aside from TNT practice. I continue to oversee the Gilas practice," he explained. "I'm taking a look at the under-16 preparations as well."

"I'm logged off. I am completely logged off. I don't see anything that's being written about me. I am not on any social media, I'm not on Instagram, I'm not on Twitter, Facebook. So, aside from the gift of busyness, it's the gift of silence, and I'm very thankful," Reyes also said.

"Because I'm logged off, I'm able to do so many things. Ang dami ko nagagawa kasi wala 'yun, that distraction is not in the picture."

The coach also credited his support system -- a group that includes his family and his players -- for keeping him at an even keel after the debacle of the SEA Games. 

Reyes intends to continue with his busy schedule and avoid most of social media as the criticism of him has shown no signs of abating, even weeks after the loss to Indonesia. 

"There's very little I can do with what happened. Unfortunate as it is, all I can do is all I can do, really," he said. "Whatever's in front of me right now, the tasks that are given me -- here to coach Talk 'N Text, help in the negotiation with Mikey Williams, to continue overseeing the program with Coach Nenad [Vucinic] and the college guys, overlooking the under-16."

"Like I said, it's really the gift of busyness for me," he added.

His "refuge and solace," Reyes said, are the TNT players who still back him despite what happened in Hanoi. 

"Ang daming nagtatanong, paano ka bumangon? Sabi ko, simple lang, bumangon ako," said Reyes. "I just stand up. Nobody else can pull myself up except myself."

"So my support system is there, the team, the players. As long as I know that I'm doing my best, I'm doing the job that I've been asked to do, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability, regardless of what other people say," he added.

Reyes will focus on his job as TNT head coach during the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, with Vucinic set to call the shots for Gilas Pilipinas when they play India and New Zealand in July.