Chot Reyes confirms offer to resign as Gilas Pilipinas coach rejected by SBP

Chot Reyes has found himself under pressure after failing to lead Gilas Pilipinas to the Southeast Asian Games 5x5 basketball gold medal for the first time in 33 years back in May. Jerome Ascano/Team Philippines

Embattled Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes confirmed Wednesday that he tendered his resignation to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) after the country failed to win the men's 5x5 basketball gold medal at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi in May, even as he thanked the SBP for finally speaking out on the issue.

"First of all, huge thanks and real appreciation for SBP president Al Panlilio for speaking up and reiterating the SBP's support for the coaching staff," Reyes said in an interview with the media after the TNT Tropang Giga advanced to the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.

"Secondly, I think his main message really was let's all be united so that we can move together and have the best possible team for 2023.

"All those people who've been messaging me, sending me e-mails telling me to resign, I don't reply. Fortunately, president Al has spoken. That's my reply. I resigned, but they didn't accept it. That's all I can say.

"I have a job, I was given this job to do. It's very, very difficult, it's very difficult for my family. But somebody has to do the job. And I've said before, I'll never turn my back on my duty to flag and country."

Reyes' comments came a day after SBP president Al Panlilio said on an online sports show that the Gilas coach did submit his resignation after the Hanoi debacle, which saw Philippines fail to win a men's 5x5 basketball gold medal in the SEA Games for the first time in 33 years.

He is however aware of the online clamor from Filipino fans asking for his head, adding: "I must admit that it's really very difficult, what's happening now, what you guys are printing.

"I know this is your job, and I know that you have to write what you feel is being spoken about, what's being talked about by the others. I've taken full responsibility and accountability for everything that's happened so far."

Panlilio, who rarely grants interviews, spoke lengthily about the state of the Gilas program on Tuesday, and essentially pinned the blame on former coach and program director Tab Baldwin for the program's downfall.

"Honestly, the predicament that we are in today is because of Tab," Panlilio was quoted as saying. "We started losing players, he didn't want to coach the February window, so as a federation we had to make decisions on how to move forward."

Reyes declined to comment on Panlilio's statement, saying he received a call from SBP chairman Manny Pangilinan in late January asking him to return to Gilas and was not aware of the details of whatever transpired prior/

"I don't wish to comment on that. I've never said anything against anyone." Reyes said.

"I don't speak ill of anyone and it's not my style. I would rather not comment on it except to say that we are doing our best. This is my fifth month in the program. We are in a period of transition.

"And in any transition, when things are going well and there's a change, you would expect things to get worse before it gets better. I wasn't privy to it. That's all I know from my end. Anything else that transpired I guess you have to ask Al."

"Sometime in late January, I received a call from Chairman MVP saying that Tab has stepped down and asking if I could take the job. So I said I have to think about it, I have to talk to my family about it. And after giving it some deep thought, I eventually said yes."

Meanwhile, Reyes said that Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson is scheduled to arrive in the country on Aug. 15 to join Gilas practices.

"He has made himself available. He said he can come in and practice starting Aug. 15 for the next window," Reyes revealed.

"Team manager Butch Antonio is talking to his representatives and his management team to fix all the logistics to allow him to come and play. It's not that simple. There's a lot of issues involved.

"Until he's actually here, it can never really be 100%. But right now, we are planning with him mind. We're putting together the lineup with Jordan Clarkson as part of the lineup."

Gilas Pilipinas will next see action in the third window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers next month. They face Lebanon on Aug. 25 in Beirut and Saudi Arabia on Aug. 29 in Manila.