Chot Reyes on Gilas Pilipinas roster issues: ‘Nothing we can do about it’

Since the start of preparations for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas has struggled with player availability issues.

Gilas has seen it all, from Carl Tamayo and Jordan Heading’s injuries that prevented them from joining the team at any point in their build-up, to Kai Sotto and Jordan Clarkson’s respective predicaments that delayed their entry into the squad, to losing Scottie Thompson, Justin Brownlee, and Poy Erram due to injuries sustained during training.

Despite this, head coach Chot Reyes is working with the available pool members as he leads his team into the final days of practice prior to the World Cup.

“This has really been a test in agility, versatility, and adaptability,” said Reyes during an interview with Noli Eala in the former PBA commissioner’s Power & Play online program.

“We started with a lot of injuries, we’ve lost three guys now to injuries, we lost Scottie, Poy, and Justin Brownlee. Those situations are the things that you don’t expect, but you plan for it.”

The 9-time PBA champion mentor also mentioned briefly that Sotto and Clarkson are still unable to practice with the team.

“We would have wanted the other guys to come in and join us earlier, but it’s not happening right now,” he added.

“There are less than three weeks left, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Why will we worry about it at this point? These are the cards that are dealt to us. We didn’t want the injuries to happen, we didn’t want the arrival delays to happen, so there is no use scratching our heads about it.”

As a result, Reyes must focus on the current roster and rely on them as they transform into the team they hope to be by the conclusion of their preparations.

“The good thing is we’re moving forward. From the start until today, I think we’re seeing [improvement]. Number one, we’re seeing a better understanding of what we want to do on defense. We’re seeing some flashes of good execution even without our number one offensive weapon,” said Reyes in reference to the Utah Jazz.

“We’re focusing on being able to work with what we have at the moment. No matter how well you play, you will really be disrupted. It’s a matter of being able to adapt and do the best that we can,” he added.

“Yun ang aming focus right now. We just have to keep on moving forward,” he said. “We’re making sure na yung ibang mga parts of the puzzle which are in our hands is ayos. Para pag pasok ng lahat, ayos na yung papasukin nila.”

When asked about the national team’s Final 12, the former TNT coach cited physical fitness as the most important factor to consider.

“I’ve always said, it’s always been fit. They have to fit the style of play that we want, they have to fit each other’s styles, and they have to be in really top shape in terms of physical fitness,” said the one-time SMB coach.

“The question is what is best for the team. Those things are going to weigh as importantly as being around for a long time with the team,” he added.

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