Smart Gilas Pilipinas’ 77-71 victory over Japan on Friday wasn’t just any other win for coach Chot Reyes. It also allowed him to get back at one of his past tormentors.
The outspoken mentor finally scored a victory at the expense of Japan coach Julio Lamas, the same bench tactician who handled Argentina back in the 2014 Fiba World Cup.
The two coaches first met when Gilas Pilipinas and El Alma Argentina crossed paths in Seville, Spain as the Filipinos gave the Argentinians all they could handle and even threatened a massive upset against the fifth ranked team in the world which featured the likes of Luis Scola, Pablo Prigioni, and Andres Nocioni.
Unfortunately for the Philippines, Argentina got its act together late and eked out the 85-81 win.
Three years later they met again, with Reyes back in the fray for the Philippines and Lamas now calling the shots for the Akatsuki Five.
Reyes welcomed Lamas’ entry to the Asian basketball circuit, saying, “The good thing about playing against good coaches is that it demands you to be at your best.”
With Japan down 38-29 at halftime, Lamas made moves that paved way for Japan to fight back from 14 points down using with 12-0 blast that gave them 40-37 lead to set up the close finish.
“I think coach Julio made great adjustments to start the third quarter and even took the lead in the third. We had to make our counter adjustments and I think that proved to be important in this ballgame,” he said.
Reyes also noted that the coaching landscape in the continent has also improved through the years.
“All over Asia, every team have great coaches. It demands you to be at the top of your game and your adjustments, your focus has to be at a very high level because one slip up could mean the ball game,” he said.
Reyes will have his hands full again on Monday as he engages on another coaching chess match against Chinese Taipei head coach Chou Chun-san.
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