By JONAS TERRADO
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said the withdrawal of archrival South Korea from this week’s FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers window is no excuse for the team not to stay ready for any situation.
While admitting that South Korea’s pullout will prompt some last-minute changes to its preparation, Reyes is also confident that Gilas can adjust to the situation in no time.
“Obviously it throws a monkey wrench into our preparations because we have been preparing for Korea for the past week,” Reyes said in an Instagram video posted Tuesday, Feb. 22.
“But having said that, we like to think that we built this team on versatility. Agility was one of the things that we talked about in our very first practice and how we really need to be prepared for whatever comes, because what we’ve learned in this environment that we are playing in now is that you really don’t know what to expect and this is one such thing.
“So right now, the best thing that we can do is stay ready, to be prepared,” added Reyes, who now turns his focus on the two remaining games in the qualifiers set at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
South Korea pulled out of the window after one player tested positive prior to the team’s scheduled departure for Manila.
Pending an official announcement from FIBA, Gilas will no longer play South Korea on Feb. 24 and Feb. 28, giving the hosts more time to make further adjustments.
Instead, the Philippines will begin its campaign on Feb. 25 against India before facing New Zealand on Feb. 27.
Reyes said the Gilas contingent which includes 15 players tested negative after entering the FIBA bubble at Novotel Manila, located adjacent to the Big Dome.
“That was my message to the players. Let’s focus on the things that we can control,” said Reyes. “Right now, that is our preparation, our health, to stay focused, mentally, and also to be emotionally prepared for whatever the schedule is.”