The Most Thankless Job in Philippine Basketball

A couple of weeks ago, the SBP and PBA revealed how the Gilas program was due for a bit of an overhaul. This, of course, was triggered by Gilas’s dismal showing in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. A lot of people assumed that this meant coach Chot was automatically out of the equation, but that was quickly refuted by SBP officials, who said that coach Chot will still be involved in the program and may even be renewed as the team’s coach.

The only coach in the past three decades to give us a Jones Cup title, a FIBA Asia silver medal,
a FIBA Asia Cup bronze, and a win in the World Cup has called it quits.
(image from Smart Gilas)
At midday today, however, the coach who steered Philippine basketball back to the world stage took his name out of the running.

Here is coach Chot Reyes’s official statement:
“I understand the Search Committee is scheduled to meet this week. In this light, I humbly request that my name would not be considered by the Committee as a candidate for the national team coach of Smart Gilas Pilipinas. This will allow the Committee to do its work unencumbered, take a broader view of other potential candidates to this national job, and enable the Gilas program to move on unfettered. Indeed, it is time for someone else take over the wheel; it is time for me to hand over that wheel.

May I say that I have dedicated the past two (2) years serving the National Team to the best of my ability. I have personally derived great pride and much satisfaction for the strides the Gilas program has taken – with the collective effort of everyone involved in the effort.

Earlier this year, coach Chot unveiled this gem of a book that chronicled the historic climb of Gilas Pilipinas last year.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports5)
I would like to thank MVP, the SBP, PBA, TV5, the PLDT group, the Gilas supporters, and most especially my family for those two difficult but wonderful years I was given to serve my country and Philippine basketball. Despite the intense pressure that came with the job and the public scrutiny that goes with being the National Coach, this job has always been a unique privilege – I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Salamat, Gilas. Salamat, Pilipinas.

Mabuhay tayong lahat. Laban Pilipinas! PUSO!”

On a purely personal level, I’m not the biggest fan of this development. Well, to those who read my blog, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise. I wasn’t a big fan of all the crazy fallout from the Asian Games in the first place. I felt all the mudslinging was a manifestation of overreaction, and it reminded me a little too much of the mudslinging that happens all too often in these local parts.

I cannot blame coach Chot, though. I’m probably overreacting, too, and probably reading too much into the whole thing, but here’s a fact: no other local coach, whether in the pros or in any of the amateur leagues, knows as much about international hoops as coach Chot. Despite all his perceived faults and questionable decisions, I find it difficult imagining the Gilas program matching its most recent achievements without his involvement or, at the very least, his input.

Will Tim Cone return to the NT saddle that has been vacated by his good friend, Chot Reyes?
(image from Interaksyon)
But, again, this is a guy who has dedicated most of the past four years (as a coach or assistant coach) to the national team and willfully put himself under public scrutiny — at the expense of family time and other interests.

Perhaps upon consideration of all these things, one can argue that coach Chot actually deserves to take a step back and enjoy a break from it all. Let someone else go through the wringer and take this team through the gauntlet. Let someone else enjoy the ride and curse the stress. Let someone else revel in the spotlight of triumph and get bashed amidst the inevitable string of disappointments. 

This is, after all, the most thankless job in Philippine basketball.

Coach Chot walks away one final time.
(image from

UPDATE AS OF 9:00pm of NOV. 10, 2014:
The response of SBP President Manny V. Pangilinan to coach Chot's withdrawal:

"I received Coach Chot’s advice with much regret.

I thank and commend him for making what must have been a most difficult but courageous decision—giving up a task and a privilege I know he truly cherishes, as I imagine any coach would.

Because the Gilas National Coach is by definition a public person, he should not expect to be free from scrutiny from the people and institutions whose support and comfort he needs.  I believe Chot knows this too well.  It is my hope however that time and distance will judge the Gilas events, and his performance, in the last two years with a slightly more moderate and compassionate view than that offered by some present-day commentators.  This leads me to recall what a sovereign once said – “He who has never failed to reach perfection has a right to be the hardest critic.”

Thank you, Chot, from all of us at SBP and the MVP Group of Companies for accepting “the changes and chances of this mortal life.”  Hail and Farewell.  We wish you well in your future endeavors with us here as a true Kapatid."

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