Mendoza: Chot faces 2 challenges of curt contrasts

Al S. Mendoza

I ADMIRE the guts of Chot Reyes.

For accepting the job as coach anew of Gilas Pilipinas, this time for the Seaba Basketball Championship, he had put his name on the line. Again.

How many are like him?

You can count them with your fingers.

With his recent decision, Chot is immediately saddled by two deadweights:

One, he also serves in a concurrent capacity as president of TV 5. That is no easy task, TV 5 being an entity, infant as it still is, struggling, grappling, for a much-coveted place in the highly-competitive world of network wars. I envy him not.

Two, he plunges into SEABA preparation without a reliable naturalized player anymore. Both Andre Blatche and Marcus Douthit are not duly accounted for, their whereabouts as unknown as The Beatles’ Nowhere Man.

The SEABA event is barely three weeks away, on May 12-18.

If there’s one major consolation for Chot, the tournament is to be held on home grounds—at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. As always, the hometown crowd assures a massive moral support for our boys.

He also is clothed now with ceilinged local players that could battle toe-to-toe with some decency against their Southeast Asian counterparts.

Without a doubt, SMB’s June Mar Fajardo has metamorphosed into a giant threat at the middle to many, if not all, of his Asian foes, except, of course, the behemoths of China.

But the SEABA has no China so that Fajardo, at 6-foot-10 almost very nimble now and with a LeBron-like confidence, can impose himself at will in the hopes of leading us to victory.

Because Fajardo is but one of 20 PBA players in the national training pool where the bulk of the national quintet will come from, Chot should find it relatively easy to prod his prized possessions in capturing the SEABA crown.

It is after the SEABA outing where Chot’s chief assignment really matters: the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon on Aug. 10-20.

Either a victory or a runner-up finish in Lebanon, similar to the Philippines’ second-place result in Manila in 2014, would send us back to the Fiba World Cup next year, this time set in China.

Since we’ve made it in 2014 Fiba Spain World Cup, there’s no reason why we couldn’t do it again.

Only trouble is, gee whiz, where is Douthit? Blatche?