Coach Chot Reyes (Photo courtesy of

With less than three weeks remaining until Gilas Pilipinas’ debut game at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, national coach Chot Reyes is confronted with the formidable task of selecting the final 12 players from the current 20-man pool.

Undoubtedly, this assignment comes with its own set of complexities, given the dedication and sweat the players have poured into their preparation, coupled with the setbacks they’ve encountered due to injuries.

Reflecting on the 2007 FIBA Asia Cup in Tokushima, China, during his previous stint as head coach, Reyes recalled the process of trimming the team to the final 12 as an exceedingly arduous one.

“In the 2007 Tokushima tournament, our final decisions included leaving out James Yap, RDO (Ranidel de Ocampo), and Tony dela Cruz. Narrowing it down to the final 12 was an incredibly demanding task,” shared Reyes in a recent video interview with former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on his Power and Play sports program.

“The upcoming selection process (for the 2023 Gilas roster) will be equally challenging; it’s an integral aspect of the job,” he added.

However, knowing that finalizing the Gilas 12 is an unavoidable facet of his role, the 60-year-old national coach has set forth a specific set of criteria for the players who will make the cut.

“I’ve consistently emphasized that players must align with our desired style of play, complement each other’s strengths, and be in peak physical condition,” explained Reyes, whose team is presently competing in the three-nation 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament in Guangdong, China.

“These factors will carry as much weight as the players’ tenure with the group.”

Nevertheless, Reyes expressed his enthusiasm for the forthcoming World Cup challenge, acknowledging that he will undertake one of the most significant tests of his basketball career with a dedicated group of players.

“To be completely honest, I’m excited. However, I’m also apprehensive about finalizing the roster, as those decisions will undoubtedly be incredibly tough. Nonetheless, I’m invigorated and inspired by the team’s camaraderie,” shared Reyes, who just last May guided Gilas to recapture the gold medal in men’s basketball at the Southeast Asian Games, triumphing over a Cambodia team bolstered by several foreign players.

Highlighting the resilience of the 13-man Gilas squad competing in Heyuan, who endured a grueling six-hour bus journey to the playing venue before facing a tall and versatile Senegalese team, Reyes noted, “Even so, our Gilas players faced off against Senegal, a formidable team boasting several 7-footers. I observed the team’s resilience and determination firsthand.”

“When you have players of such caliber, it instills excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead,” he added.

At the time of this post, Gilas is set to face Senegal once more on Sunday evening before concluding their competition in China against Iran’s B Team on Monday night. (ai/mnm)