MANILA, Philippines—Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes approached the team introduction press conference with a sense of relief as if he hasn’t been the brunt of insults on social media on the road to the Fiba World Cup.
With reporters awaiting the arrival of Chot Reyes in the last press briefer before the start of the global competition at Araneta Coliseum on a fair-weathered Thursday afternoon, what greeted them was a carefree coach wearing a genuine smile.
Reyes was answering questions left and right with team captain Japeth Aguilar beside him. He was even throwing idioms in the middle of his answers.
Something about needing a village to stop a certain NBA star in Karl-Anthony Towns, something, something.
However, when someone asked how he plans to block out the noise that has been bombarding him for the longest time since his assignment as Gilas Pilipinas head coach, a confident Reyes turned even more confident, as if a flame was lit inside him.
NO MORE SOCIAL MEDIA
He, of course, had to begin his answer with a light banter.
“Are you asking me what I’m gonna do if the crowd boos again?” he asked in jest.
“Let’s be very realistic. When I accepted this job, and I’ve told this over and over again, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew there would be public or social media disappointment but I don’t know. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it,” he said, shrugging all the while.
Reyes could never run away from the negative comments. From the start of the World Cup preparations until the announcement of the Final 12, the former TNT mentor was always the center of blame.
The veteran tactician, though, has figured out a fix for this, which explains why he looks unfazed by comments from the internet.
“I’m not on social media anymore so that alone, that’s already a big way of blocking the distraction. I’ve been practicing gratitude lately. I’m a big believer in mindfulness meditation, I do that daily. I do my breathing exercises. I do my workout and my physical movement routines then I do my work with the team.”
“I find that if you fill your day with productive things, the negative things have no space to enter.”
“Puso,” or heart has always been the battle cry of the Philippine National men’s basketball team since their magical run in 2013.
“Puso” was the rallying cry of the Filipinos when they pushed Jimmy Alapag, Marc Pingris, Ranidel de Ocampo, and the entire Gilas squad to break “the Korean curse” in that year’s Fiba Asia Championships.
That was the same year when Reyes proved his worth as being more than a PBA tactician but as a world-class mentor as well, steering a bizarre mix of shooters, big men, and Andray Blatche to excellence.
So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Reyes revealed that he mixed some of the old with his new values as they tried to replicate that 2013 magic on a bigger stage like the Fiba World Cup–and this time, on home soil.
“Everything that I’m doing, I’m trying to be as positive as possible. to fill my mind and spirit with positivity. We like to call it ‘Puso-tivity,’” explained the 60-year-old shotcaller.
His positive mindset showed up big when he had to explain how huge of a challenge this global competition is, not just for him but for the country as a whole.
The pressure is huge, and the expectations are high, but as soon as Reyes sees himself coaching the national team for Red, Blue and White, then maybe all those disappear for just a little bit.
“Who gets this chance, right? To coach this national team in a tournament of this magnitude in your hometown. I know there’re lots of detractors but I always remind myself that what we have going on here is special and that’s enough.”
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