MANILA, Philippines – Chot Reyes is back as the head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas national team, with Tab Baldwin returning to his previous role as the team's consultant, it was announced Tuesday.
Reyes led the Gilas Pilipinas team to a silver-medal finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and a historic appearance in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, after which he stepped down and Baldwin took over.
Under Baldwin, the national team again won silver in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship but failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics after a winless stint in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila last July.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios made the announcement through a live broadcast on the Sports5 Facebook page.
"Chot Reyes is your head coach for Gilas," Barrios told the Gilas Cadets, who will be part of the national team pool, during Tuesday's meeting. "Mr. Baldwin will still be with us as a consultant of the team."
"We want to go back to our winning formula," added Barrios, noting that Reyes was the coach while Baldwin was the consultant during Gilas Pilipinas' run in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship all the way to their stint in the FIBA World Cup.
"This was not an overnight decision," Reyes said. "They've been talking to me about this for more than a month already. Mahirap talikuran ang iyong bansa. That's the challenge that's given to us, and it's difficult to turn your back to flag and country."
Aside from confirming his return as head coach of the national team, Reyes also informed the members of the Gilas cadets that they will all have to join the PBA.
The Gilas cadets present in the meeting were: Arnold Van Opstal, Ed Daquioag, Von Pessumal, Carl Bryan Cruz, Matthew Wright, RR Pogoy, Almond Vosotros, Mike Tolomia, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Kevin Ferrer and Russell Escoto.
"The first part of my program in preparing for FIBA competition is to make sure that the players are in the PBA," Reyes said. "Kapag naglaro ka sa PBA, you're going to be in game shape, you'll get training, and it will teach you to adapt to different teammates, coaches, and situations."
Thus, all the cadets will have to join the PBA Draft, Reyes stressed.
In addition, each PBA team will also lend one player to the national team pool to create a group of 24 players from which future iterations of the Gilas Pilipinas team will be formed.
"Sa dami ng tournament, we cannot survive with one team only. We need a team of players," said Reyes.
Reyes also made it clear to the members of the Gilas pool that there is no assurance that they will make the final 12.
"You'll be part of the pool, but the chance is you might not even make the final 12. Are you still willing to continue? You have to ask yourself that question," he said. "But the direction is very clear. We're going to put together the best group of players not in the PBA, plus the best from the PBA, to form a pool, and that's going to be where future Gilas teams are going to come from."
After failing to qualify to the Rio Olympics this year, the goal for the new Gilas Pilipinas team is to make it to the 2019 FIBA World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
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