October 04, 2023

Why Italy coach praises Chot Reyes, Gilas despite group stage exit in FIBA World Cup

Why Italy coach praises Chot Reyes, Gilas despite group stage exit in FIBA World Cup

The floodgates for vitriol and hate have opened once Gilas Pilipinas failed to upset world no. 10 Italy in their last game in the FIBA World Cup group stages.

Gilas needed to win with 12 points or more of margin to advance in the next round. Instead they lost by 7, and dropped down to the classification stage.

As usual, a chorus of boos from Filipinos fans were thrown at coach Chot Reyes. National team players were quick to defend the veteran tactician, even fan favorite Rhenz Abando. Gilas' superstar guard Jordan Clarkson was weirded out with the boos. The Utah Jazz sniper called it "out of the ordinary."

Even the competition has nothing but praise for Gilas. Italy's coach Gianmarco Pozzecco commended Reyes and the organization despite going 0-3 in the group stage.

"I would like to congratulate the coach of the Philippines, your staff, and all the players. You did an amazing job. Not just today, you have to be proud of your players. You did a great tournament," Pozzecco said in the post-game interview.

"All of those games and so you have to be really proud of the guys. You lost three games but you fought in all of them."

Gilas averaged a 7.6 margin in their losses against the Dominican Republic, Angola, and Italy. One could say that the silver lining is the Philippines did not absorb any lopsided defeat, especially against Italy who massacred Gilas in 2019 behind a 108-62 loss.

Pozzecco also gave Clarkson his flowers in his first ever FIBA World Cup.

"Jordan Clarkson is really a star. He has amazing behavior. He surprised me not because he’s a star, but [because] he played with emotion, with heart, really involved."