Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director and designated spokesperson Sonny Barrios clarified the statements of Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes when he said that the national team “doesn’t really need to win the game against Lebanon.”
Barrios stressed that winning games remains the objective for Gilas every time it steps its foot on the hard court, and Reyes and the rest of the coaching staff are just using the opportunity to field players who could be possibly be called up for the World Cup pool.
“I took it up with him and he (Reyes) and the coaches are aware that, from the top, from Mr. Pangilinan, the objective is to win the game that we play. That’s the objective,” insisted Barrios during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 9.
“At the same time, for example itong Aug. 25 and 29, we are not fielding our best team for the World Cup. The luxury of evaluating several players or many players and many combinations, we earned it. Hindi lahat nag-host automatically qualified sa World Cup. Tayo lang ng Japan,” he added.
Reyes once again got the ire of fans following his statements when he explained that the national team is using the August window as an opportunity to study the players and that the focus remains in the World Cup.
“Everything that we’re doing right now is we’re taking a look kung sino ang pwede, it’s an opportunity to study. Inulit na naman ni coach Tim (Cone) kagabi yun. We don’t really need to win the game against Lebanon. It’s good for PR, it’s gonna be good for me, I guess, (as response) to my haters but for the whole team objective not necessarily,” he stressed.
Barrios then went on to explain the context of Reyes’ statements, saying that because Gilas has already a sure spot in the World Cup, the team is not anymore dealing with the pressure of winning games just to qualify to the global showpiece.
That, however, doesn’t mean that the federation is taking the window and its opponents lightly. In fact, SBP’s move to build the team around NBA star Jordan Clarkson proved how the federation is eager to perform well.
“We are automatically qualified not just because we are the host but because of our world ranking. Naka-achieve na tayo ng ganun eh. But we are not going there to walk in the park. Definitely not,” added Barrios.
“Chot and the coaching staff will get it from Boss MVP, President Al Panlilio, and Mr. Vargas and the whole nation if they go there na parang nakikipag-scrimmage lang sila. They will try their best and live and die on the court if necessary to win,” he added.
“That said, we have the luxury of ‘we don’t have to win’ but the desire to win will always be there. ‘Yung need to win in terms of qualifying, wala ’yun. But the desire to win is always there,” Barrios stressed.