by Waylon Galvez
(Taipei Peace Basketball Gymnasium)
11 a.m. – Lithuania vs Japan
1 p.m. – Iraq vs Canada
3 p.m. – Philippines vs Taiwan-White
5 p.m. – Iran vs South Korea
7 p.m. – Taiwan-Blue vs India
Taipei — Just like the veteran members of the Gilas Pilipinas training pool, coach Chot Reyes understands that the young players of the national team will have to go through the process of learning to play in international competitions starting with the William Jones Cup here.
“It’s the same thing,” said Reyes, who is back at the helm of the national team program after he stepped down following the campaign of the Philippines in the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea.
“Even our senior players, they went through this process. We were in that exact same situation a few years ago learning how to play the international game,” added the veteran mentor.
Back in 2012, Reyes took over from Serbian coach Rajko Toroman as head of the national team program. Though he gathered the best PBA players, it took some time for the squad to develop as a unit.
That same year, the national team took the Jones Cup title with LA Tenorio being named MVP. That success eventually led Gilas’ silver medal finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena, earning a berth in the 2014 World Cup.
The current batch of national team playing in this Taiwanese capital, composed of PBA rookies and amateur standouts, opened its title-retention campaign with a 90-77 setback to a taller and experienced Canada squad Saturday night.
Reyes was quick to point at the 40 free throws they gave, which the Canadians converted into 31 points. Gilas also committed 26 turnovers, six from point guard Jio Jalalon.
“Our more senior players, they already understand this. Jayson (Castro) already knows this, and Terrence Romeo, they already know this. But now it’s the time for these guys (to learn),” said Reyes.
“And finally, how to play with each other and play with our system and what we want to do,” he added.
Reyes has 17 players, including American import Mike Myers, for the Jones Cup and has the option to rotate them and pick 12 each game. The 16 Filipinos are part of the 24-man training pool with the PBA veterans from where he can choose for various international tournaments.
Part of the events scheduled for this year are the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon next month, the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia also next month, and the FIBA home-and-away tournament, the qualifier for the 2019 World Cup in China.
“This is part of the entire program in preparation to continuously upgrade,” said Reyes. “That’s why we got these young guys. This is really a consensus effort on our part to expand our national pool.”
“With the FIBA schedule, playing in different windows all throughout the year, it’s very important to have a lot of players available for the national team. We couldn’t rely on just 10 guys. We have to expand the pool,” added Reyes.
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