Gilas Pilipinas coach Vincent “Chot” Reyes gave credit to the jam-packed crowd that rocked the MOA Arena during the national team’s home game against Japan, Sunday night in the 2nd window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The acknowledged ‘6th’ man of the team provided the much needed spark as the squad battled back from an early 16-lead by the Japanese to cut the deficit to only 1 at the end of the 1st period.
“We’re not hiding the fact that if had played this game in Tokyo or elsewhere, I don’t we wouldn’t have won. I think the crowd gave us lift, we were counting on the crowd to give us that adrenaline push that would really be our sixth man to the the Japanese team,” said Reyes during the post-game press conference.
The game was full of runs with neither team giving way to the other. Gilas would establish double-digit leads only to be erased by spirited rallies from the visitors.
Reyes admitted that he expected the team to struggle early in the game due to effects of the long travel time from Australia, in addition to facing a team fighting for their tournament lives.
“Well we kinda expected that we would struggle coming from that trip. It was a very difficult trip for us coming from Melbourne via Sydney, and so we expected that we would struggle coming from this ball game,” said Reyes.
“We’re really lucky that we were playing at home. Shout out to all out countrymen who came out tonight to cheer. I don’t think we would have been able to make it with the comeback,” added the 54-year old, five-time PBA Coach of the Year awardee.