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Chot reiterates problems hounding Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas

Members of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas team bound for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup pose during a send-off party Tuesday. | Rey A. Dalupang

MANILA, Philippines — Chot Reyes and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas are far from the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in China — and yet they’re already battling hurdles.

“We're very short on time and we have very limited players available because the PBA is ongoing,” Reyes told the press Tuesday during the team’s send-off lunch in a hotel in Ortigas.

Days ago, the veteran national team head coach hinged his lineup on two players — Carl Bryan Cruz and Terrence Romeo, whose respective teams Alaska and GlobalPort were still in contention for a playoff spot in PBA's Governors' Cup.

That was only one of the many problems Chooks is dealing with heading into the club tournament.

“And then we had injuries, that's why Ray Parks and Chris Standhardinger couldn't make it,” Reyes added.”

There’s also the issue of his two foreign reinforcements yet to be granted a Chinese visa. But it’s not something insurmountable for Reyes and company.

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"Like I've said, we're used to this, and I think we have a pretty interesting team. We put together a pretty interesting team,” he shortly after unveiling the 14-man crew who will be participating in the FIBA-sanctioned contest set to begin on September 23.

Reyes and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ Butch Antonio said that American Isaiah Austin and Congolese Rod Ebondo’s visas are still pending, prompting them to set D-Leaguer Andre Paras and Blackwater’s Gab Banal as reserves for the tourney.

"From the start, I was nervous that there was not enough time to assemble and prepare a competitive team,” chimed in BAVI president Ronald Mascariñas.

"Itong tournament na ito, tested once again 'yung difficulty assembling a competitive team,” he added. "I admire the tenacity of Coach Chot and the players, na given the limited resources, they're out there to fight and give their best for our country.”

But as far as indications go, this team is already squad that will definitely put a fight.

"If adversity builds the strength of character, and the strength of character builds champions, this team is already a champion with all the adversity it has faced,” said SBP’s Robbie Puno.

"We barely had a month to prepare, but regardless of adversity, it's the perseverance of the people around the team,” Antonio added.

“From organizing, getting the practices in, to logistical arrangements here and in China, visa requirements — we're still facing some difficulties and challenges up to now. But still, it's the resilience — it's [our] secret and it will probably carry us in succeeding in the FIBA ACC.”

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