|Chot Reyes returns to national team duty ahead of the FIBA WCQ February window. PBA Images (file photo)|
MANILA--Just as January is about to end, Gilas Pilipinas announced a coaching shakeup.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced late Monday night that Chot Reyes is returning as the national team coach.
Tab Baldwin, who handled Gilas for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers last year in Angeles, let go of his spot to focus on Ateneo's campaign in the upcoming UAAP season scheduled to tip off in March barring another COVID-19 spike.
"The ongoing delays caused by the pandemic have resulted in an overlap in schedules between the coming UAAP season and the preparations for the FIBA World Cup 2023 Qualifiers. In light of this, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin has expressed to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan that he is stepping down from his duties as Gilas head coach to focus on his responsibilities to the Ateneo men's basketball team," the SBP said in a statement.
The group further said, "The SBP respects Coach Tab's decision and thanks him for his valuable contribution to the Gilas program."
Reyes, who is concurrently TNT's chief tactician, begins his new stint as Gilas coach on Tuesday, right on the first day of February.
"The man behind the 'Puso' team who broke the infamous 'Korean Curse' is expected to once again bring Philippine basketball to the next level," the SBP further said, pertaining to Gilas' 83-76 win over South Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia Cup semifinals in Pasay that sent the former to the 2014 FIBA World Cup, ending a 36-year drought of not making it there.
According to Pangilinan, choosing Reyes to take over is essentially a no-brainer.
"Chot is the sensible choice to take over Gilas coaching because he is very familiar with the program. He also has solid experience in international competition and FIBA games," Pangilinan said.
SBP president Al Panlilio added, "Considering the high-level performance expected of Gilas, we decided to go with the coach who brought the country back to the FIBA World Cup in 2014."
Accepting his new position, Reyes said that despite this overlapping with his other job as Tropang Giga's coach especially since they are seeking the "pandemic grand slam" in the PBA, it is difficult for him to pass on the opportunity to coach the national team.
"It will be an honor to serve the country again. It is a big challenge pero hindi ko matatalikuran ang tawag ng bayan," Reyes said.
The SBP then called on the Gilas fans to support Reyes as he returns to national team duty ahead of the February window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers from Feb. 24-28.
The Philippines will host the Group A bubble in a still-to-be-announced arena.
"The national federation would also like to ask our countrymen to support Coach Chot Reyes as we prepare to bring basketball's biggest stage to our homecourt," the statement concluded.
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