MANILA - TNT coach Chot Reyes will not be around for two games in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals as he throws his other hat as Gilas Pilipinas' mentor.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio confirmed on Friday that Reyes will be in Beirut for Gilas' road game against Lebanon in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and will miss Games 2 and 3 of the Tropang Giga's championship series against the San Miguel Beermen.
Panlilio, who represented TNT being the PLDT president during the PBA Philippine Cup Finals press conference at the Novotel Manila Grand Ballroom, said that while winning it all remains the goal, representing the Philippines is just too important to let go.
"I think from the PBA's point of view, winning the PBA championship is very, very important to us. As Chot said, 'The organization pushes excellence, and we wanna always do well.' But there's a bigger calling at this point: it's flag and country, and I think we as an organization have always been ready to answer to that call," Panlilio said.
Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, while Game 3 is on Aug. 26 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
These games fall within the time Reyes will be in Beirut to coach Gilas.
Panlilio hopes that the Tropang Giga will "hold the fort" against the Beermen during the time Reyes is gone.
"It's something we need to do. We have to hold the fort for the team," Panlilio said.
When asked who will take over for TNT while he is out, Reyes said the other members of his coaching staff and even Team Manager Jojo Lastimosa will handle the chores.
"Pagtutulungan nina Sandy Arespacochaga, Yuri Escueta at saka ni Jojo Lastimosa (Sandy Arespacochaga, Yuri Escueta, and Jojo Lastimosa will support each other)," Reyes said.
Reyes will be at the Tropang Giga's helm when the series begins on Sunday night, also at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
He is also likely to coach the team the following Sunday in Game 4, also at "The Big Dome," the night before Gilas hosts Saudi Arabia at the MOA Arena. (PNA)