MANILA — Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes does not want to make any promises to the team’s fans, except for one thing.
“We’re not in the habit of making promises. We didn’t make any promise going into the Fiba World Cup except for the fact that nobody’s going to try harder,” said Reyes on Wednesday. “It’s going to be the same thing. We promise the Filipino people, everybody here tonight that we’re going to practically die to make everyone of you proud that this is the team that’s representing you,” he added.
The national team left for Spain with modest expectations, but end up finishing with the country’s first win in 40 years. Now, they are preparing for the Asiad games despite Andray Blatche’s disqualification.
The 6-foot-11 naturalized Filipino was declared ineligible to play for Gilas because of a three-year residency rule in Asiad. Blatche averages 21.2 points and 13.8 rebounds during the Fiba World Cup. His absence will definitely be felt by the team.
Replacing him will be Marcus Douthit who also helped the country secure a play in the Fiba World Cup in 36 years.
“I’m just ready to fill in the void that my team needs,” said the 34-year-old Douthit.
For Reyes, he believes that team effort is vital in filling the space left by Blatche.
“I don’t believe in any single person trying to fill the shoes of anyone person. Every man in this room, in this team has to come in and do his part and play his role because this is more than a one-man team,” Reyes said.
He added, “We’re not worried about who’s not here. Our only concern is getting the best from everyone that’s here.”
Aside from Blatche, Jayson Castro will not be able to play as well because of a strained Achilles, whereas Jared Dillinger and Marc Pingris both have calf and ankle injuries, respectively. However, Dillinger and Pingris will try to play but will be out of form.
“The injuries have really taken its toll on us and I’ll be very honest we’re not going to be 100 percent going into the tournament in the Asian Games. But hey, whoever gave us a chance in the World Cup anyway,” Reyes said.
For the past years, the national team learned how to make the circumstances worth to their advantages despite setbacks.
“This is not new to us. Being in front of almost impossible odds is not new to us so we’ll just keep fighting and then let’s see what happens,” Reyes said.
No other team will try harder than the Philippines, he promised.