By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) wasted no time in putting the right pieces around Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes as they gun for supremacy in the upcoming first window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Boosting Gilas’ coaching staff this 2022 is the former coach of the New Zealand national team, Nenad Vucinic.
SBP Deputy Executive Director Butch Antonio revealed the latest development days after Reyes replaced coach Tab Baldwin as the chief tactician of the team.
Antonio shared that the acquisition of Vucinic’s coaching expertise was already a done deal when the year started.
Also joining the talented Gilas coaching staff is multi-champion Jong Uichico who is also a staple member of the SBP core group of coaches and was there on the sidelines during their magical run at the Manama bubble and the last FIBA qualifiers where they swept Korea.
“Si coach Nenad, pinasok sa national team yan at the start of the year. Si coach Jong andiyan din. So we will probably have them. Hindi ko pa alam kung may isasama si coach Chot from TNT,” said Antonio.
Reyes is no stranger to the Gilas program after leading the team against Korea during the 2013 FIBA Asia World Cup qualifiers that ended their 36-year drought for a World Cup qualification.
However, Reyes will have to deal with a new set of national players as most of his wards during the 2013 campaign are no longer active in Gilas.
“It will be an honor to serve the country again. It is a big challenge but I cannot turn my back on the country,” Reyes said.