COACH Chot Reyes expressed deep regret for Gilas Pilipinas' winless streak at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

2 September 2023

COACH Chot Reyes expressed deep regret for Gilas Pilipinas’ winless streak at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The team suffered its fourth consecutive defeat in as many outings, with the latest being a 68-87 loss to South Sudan during the classification phase before a largely partisan crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, August 31.

What made this loss particularly disheartening for Filipino basketball enthusiasts was that it eliminated Gilas from contention for an automatic Paris Olympics qualification next year.

Reyes, visibly defeated after the loss, took full responsibility for the team’s shortcomings, stating, “I’ve said it numerous times. I’m genuinely sorry that we couldn’t deliver, and I bear complete accountability.”

When asked if the defeats served as a learning experience for Gilas, as he had previously mentioned in past tournaments leading up to the World Cup, Reyes responded with a definitive “no.”

He emphasized that this (2023) World Cup was the stage for the home team to execute rather than learn.

“No, this was no longer about gaining experience for us; it was a time for us to win and put our learning into action. This should have happened much earlier. This was the time for us to win and execute, and, as I mentioned, we didn’t get the job done,” Reyes lamented.

Even in defeat, Gilas could have still contended for the sole outright Olympic qualification spot for an Asian team if Japan had also lost to Venezuela. However, Japan secured an 86-77 victory, dashing Filipino hopes.

“Once again, it’s unfortunate. We knew this was the game we absolutely had to win because someone would secure the wins. That’s why I’m very, very disappointed. I wasn’t surprised that Japan won; that’s why I knew this was the game we absolutely had to win,” Reyes explained.

Despite the demoralizing loss, Reyes stressed the need for a swift recovery as Gilas still had a game against China to end their campaign on Saturday, September 2. Gilas aimed to salvage some pride with a victory, which would also affect China’s chances of outright Olympic qualification.

China, which defeated Angola to start its classification phase campaign, needed to beat the Philippines and hope that Japan lost to Cape Verde to increase its chances of finishing as the top Asian team in the tournament and securing the automatic Olympic qualification.

“Obviously, we’re very, very down. There’s nothing else to say, right? Morale is really low. Our task is to prepare everyone for the next game, and that starts with our mindset and emotional state,” Reyes emphasized.

He concluded by expressing pride in the team’s effort despite the challenging campaign. “I want to say that, as difficult and disappointing as this campaign has been so far, I’m still very proud of the effort. The guys gave their all and fought their best. Unfortunately, things didn’t go our way. All we can do now is focus on the next game. There’s one more game to be played. We’ll prepare as best as we can to put up a fight against China on Saturday.”