Assistants take TNT rein in two games  

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Coach Chot Reyes will wear his Gilas Pilipinas hat in next week’s FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers campaign and temporarily leave the TNT bench for two games in the PBA Philippine Cup finals.

Reyes said he will serve his coaching chores for Gilas as it plays Lebanon on Aug. 25 in Beirut and Saudi Arabia at the MOA Arena on the 29th.  This being so, assistant coaches Sandy Arespacochaga and Yuri Escueta and even team manager Jojo Lastimosa will hold the fort for TNT in Games 2 and 3 slated Aug. 24 and 26, respectively.

“He’ll be here for Game 1 (tomorrow) but he’ll miss Games 2 and 3 because of Gilas,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio.

Panlilio, also the PLDT president, said the call of the country takes precedence over everything else.

“From a PLDT and TNT point of view, winning the PBA championship is very, very important to us. But there’s a bigger calling at this point. It’s flag and country and we as an organization have always been ready to answer that call,” he said.

Reyes expressed confidence the Tropang Giga can pull it off while he’s away.

“It’s an opportunity for the players to step up and prove they can do it without their head coach and for the coaching staff to pitch in and do the job. The way we look at it, it’s not a problem but an opportunity and hopefully it turns out well,” he said.

Gilas is cranking up its buildup as Kai Sotto already arrived the other night and NBA player Jordan Clarkson was slated for touchdown last night. Both are expected to be on deck for training today.


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