An apologetic Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes takes full responsibility for the dismal performance of the national team in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Four straight losses in as many games by Gilas are just too much for the fans, who took time to cheer and watch their games, to swallow.
Reyes, who has been at the receiving end of jeers and boos by no less than the irate Filipino fans tired of seeing Gilas get beaten up in the international arena, owned up to the team’s misfortunes.
“I’ve said sorry numerous times. I’ve already said I’m really sorry that we were not able to deliver. I take full accountability. I take full responsibility,” Reyes, who returned to take the Gilas rein from American-Kiwi mentor Tab Baldwin last year, said.
Gilas saw their chance of ending a 51-year Olympic absence evaporate after absorbing a 68-87 whipping at the hands of South Sudan which is 22 ranks lower than the world No. 40 Filipinos to start the classification round last Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 19-point beating was the worst showing of the squad in this tournament after close calls against the Dominican Republic, Angola, and Italy in Group A during the first round.
Reyes admitted that they should have delivered but failed. Calling it a learning experience would just be an excuse for failure.
“No this was a time for us to win — to execute. The learning is supposed to happen way back. This was the time for us to win and execute. Like I said, we didn’t get the job done,” he said.
Along with Gilas’ ninth straight defeat since dropping all their five games in the 2019 edition of the World Cup in China goes the Olympic dream of the squad.
The Filipinos needed to win their two games in the classification round to better their chances of becoming the best-placed Asian team in the tournament that would hand them an outright seat in the Summer Games next year.
But it went flying out the window.
Co-host Japan won for the second time pushing the Japanese closer to an Olympic ticket while other Asian squads China and Lebanon barged into the win column on the same night Gilas crumbled at the feet of a nation that was established just 12 years ago.
“Again, unfortunate. We knew this was the game we absolutely had to win because somebody would get the wins. That’s why I’m very, very disappointed,” Reyes sighed.
“I’m not surprised Japan won, that’s why I knew this was the game we really, absolutely had to get, so… there goes our Olympic dreams for now for this World Cup.”
Gilas still has a chance to go to Paris but would have to trek a bumpy and dangerous road through the Olympic qualifiers.
But for now, Reyes would like to concentrate on redeeming the Filipinos’ shattered pride.