CHOT Reyes knows being back as head coach of TNT carries with it the pressure to deliver. Reyes is undaunted – and welcomes the challenge.
“Every time you accept a coaching job, there’s pressure that is attendant to it. That is why they call it the hot seat,” Reyes said in last Monday’s edition of The Game.
“But as coaches, we are used to it, if that is even possible. Certainly, if you accept a high profile job like TNT, there will be high expectations,” he added.
“But like I’ve always said, there’s no pressure bigger than what I put on to myself and my work, to be able to produce. Part of accepting the job is accepting the pressure that comes with it.”
Reyes was replaced by Norman Black at the helm of TNT for the 2013 season and he handled the Gilas Pilipinas program until he was replaced by Yeng Guiao following the infamous Philippines-Australia brawl in 2018.
Then came the call from business tycoon and TNT owner Manny V. Pangilinan last Feb. 7, asking Reyes if he would like to return as head coach of TNT. By Reyes’ own account, he needed two days to think things through before accepting the offer.
The five-time Coach of the Year awardee admitted keeping tabs on the PBA since he last coached in the league and noted that much has changed.
“The last time I coached in the PBA was 2012. There’s certainly a lot of changes that we’ve seen, not just the players but also coaches,” he noted. “The entry of younger coaches and the advent of new styles and new perspectives… As you can see, Philippine basketball is very progressive.
“The players that play the game now are very awake–they are aware of the latest styles in the NBA and Europe. I believe that the players have evolved. The style of play has a lot of difference compared to the last time I coached.”
Although Tim Cone, Black and Guiao are still there, the PBA has a lot of young coaches below 50 years old: Alaska’s Jeffrey Cariaso, Blackwater’s Nash Racela, Magnolia’s Chito Victolero, Phoenix’s Topex Robinson and Rain or Shine’s Caloy Garcia.
He intends to infuse the team with young blood through the March 14 Season 46 Rookie Draft, the PBA’s first official activity prior to the season kickoff on April 9. But some things remain the same, like cracking the virtual stranglehold of the SMC teams on championships.
Out of the 19 conferences that have taken place from 2013-2020, only twice have teams outside of Ginebra, San Miguel, and San Mig Coffee/Magnolia won it all – TNT during the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup and Rain or Shine a year later.
Reyes’ first order of the day is settling in with his team and staff, some of whom are holdovers from his former team.
The Tropang Giga still have Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes and Jay Washington, apart from RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Poy Erram, Ray Parks, and Almond Vosotros, whom he handled in Gilas.
Also helping Reyes are his assistant coaches Bong Ravena, Sandy Arespacochaga, Josh Reyes and a former player in Ranidel De Ocampo.
That is why Reyes is calling his return “comfortably uncomfortable.” “Comfortable with some players and the coaches, but the discomfort of working with new coaches and players. That’s always the challenge. But it’s not going to be easy,” he said. “This is not going to be a walk in the park and easy.”
Reyes is also asking for patience, especially for a franchise that has changed head coaches four times in the last five years.
“I just want to make sure that we manage expectations because the competition, as we all know, is very, very tough,” stressed Reyes. “Everyone is getting better so simply changing the coach is not a magic formula. It’s not automatic. We really, really have to work as we’ve never worked before.”