Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes may have been booed by the mammoth crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena but that in no way affected on how Kai Sotto believes on the veteran coach.

Gilas Pilipinas center Kai Sotto dunks the ball during their game against Saudi Arabia Monday, Aug. 29. (Ali Vicoy)

In fact, the Adelaide center holds Reyes in high regards that his appointment as head coach of the national team made it a no-brainer for him to accept the invitation to join the national team for the fourth window.

“One of the main reason why I played sa Gilas kasi nalaman ko na si coach Chot ang coach, bata pa ako pangarap ko na maging coach siya and sinabi ko sa kanya kanina na isang karangalan at pinangarap ko iyon dati pa,” said Sotto following Gilas’ rout of Saudi Arabia, 84-46, Monday, Aug. 29.

Reyes had been under fire since the huge debacle in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi where the country failed to land the gold medal for the first time in almost three decades. A pair of lackluster performances in the third window of the qualifiers and in the FIBA Asia Cup further fueled the fire – with fans’ clamor growing in social media calling for Reyes’ resignation.

“It motivated us, we’re a team, we’re a family. Simula sa lahat ng staff sa utility sa players sa coaches lahat ng iyan,” Sotto commented on the boos of the crowd towards Reyes.

Indeed, those jeers lit the fire in the players as they overcame a sluggish start and completely tore the game apart in the second half behind a blistering 24-8 rally in the third frame. As the dust settles, NBA star Jordan Clarkson, who, likewise, defended Reyes from the fans, finished with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds while Sotto had a game of his own with a double-double of 16 points and 13 boards.

“Just to see a guy na willing to sacrifice na willing saluhin lahat ng bad stuff na nakikita sa amin siya sumasalo lahat para sa isang player niya nakakamotivate nakakainspire,” said Sotto.

“For me, talagang I played my best sa laro ko itong two games na ito para kay coach Chot.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (