Gilas Pilipinas head coach Vincent "Chot" Reyes | Philstar.com File/Denison Dalupang
MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes is a firm believer of dreaming big. And he knows that big dreams take time.
And he's also prepared for that.
Speaking to the public one last time before the 2017 Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championships, Reyes said he is not taking chances in spite of the unranked FIBA teams the national squad will be facing in the Friday tournament.
"I'm a firm believer than when you dream, you dream big, you dream high, you reach for the stars," he said in the get-together mounted by Chooks-to-Go in a hotel in Pasig on Wednesday night.
"We have to field the best, the strongest team possible," he noted. "That was the guiding principle behind putting this team together: to makes sure we have the best chance to win the championship."
During the course of PBA's All-Star week, Reyes fielded three combinations of the 24-man Gilas pool against a mixture of the league's top talent. In the Lucena leg, he made his final cut for the SEABA hostilities, putting four new names into his 12-man crew.
"This team was built with the future in mind," Reyes share. "Our guiding number is '29.' Some of [the players here] will turn 30 during the year, but when we chose them, the max age was 29."
The returning head coach, who is picking up the cudgels from Tab Baldwin, said the long-term goal is the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
"We're preparing for the Olympics in 2020," he said. "That's our North Star—the Olympics. I feel this team can grow together."
Gilas' first test will be on Friday when the aforementioned tournament kicks off. Tweaks to the lineup will be made as the year as the national team enters more tournaments throughout the year—namely FIBA Asia in Lebanon (if Philippines wins gold next week) and the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.
"We have to be the highest-ranked Asia team. If we achieve that, we play in the 2020 Olympics," Reyes explained. "That's why this team is what it is. I understand there are other teams who are deserving to be here, but this is the 'SEABA 12.' It's not the final 12, it’s the 'SEABA 12,' and they give us the best chance to win the championship."
"Hopefully they can get the job done," he said.