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Chot Reyes hopes that a 'keep fighting' mindset is his Gilas legacy

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Chot Reyes on stepping down as Gilas coach (2:21)

Former Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes tells ESPN5 the July 2 brawl between the Gilas and the Australia Boomers kicked off a chain of events that led to his resignation. (2:21)

As Chot Reyes formally bid goodbye to coaching the national team on Tuesday, a look back at the career of one of the country's most flamboyant coaches reveal numerous images in and out of the court that could serve as his legacy.

While Reyes put the Philippines national team back on the world map, his time at the helm was not without its low points. The team's abysmal finish in the 2014 Asian Games led to his previous dismissal. The July 2nd brawl against the Boomers -- that led to numerous ejections and suspensions -- was a black eye for a program that had built up international credibility.

But Reyes also managed to squeeze out talent and skill from an often limited national team roster. With the PBA contributing a minimal amount of talent, Reyes often got his players to exceed expectations.

"Puso!" translated as "heart" has served as the battle cry for every Reyes-led Gilas team in the past.

Marc Pingris typified the battle cry during Gilas' critical game against long-time rival South Korea in the semifinals of the 2013 FIBA Asia men's championships.

Gilas lost naturalized player Marcus Douthit, who hurt his knee during the game, leaving the Filipino front court the task of defending the paint. But that wasn't a problem at all for the 6-foot-5 Pingris, who despite himself playing on an injured leg, towered over the opposition for 16 points and 10 rebounds.

His two-point basket in the last 20 seconds sealed the Philippine team's victory. The win marked the country's return to the world championships after a 40-year absence.

"More than anything, it's the culture," Reyes told ESPN5. (Reyes is also President and CEO of TV5 Network Inc.) "For me, it's not the placing or victories, but we were able to build a truly unique Filipino basketball culture. You lack players, just keep fighting. You lack the time, three days to prepare, just keep fighting. Somebody got injured, just keep fighting."

When the Philippines finally played in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain, Gilas was not overmatched against some of the world's best, despite the differences in height.

The national team nearly pulled off a shocker when it pushed world basketball powerhouse Croatia to the brink, before falling short, 81-78 in overtime. Gilas then dropped an 82-70 decision to another world basketball force Greece the following game.

Still, the Philippines gained confidence, getting off to a 12-2 start over a former world champion Argentina that had NBA players Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni. Fil-American guard Gabe Norwood even had his shining moment when he scored on a one-handed dunk over Scola to give Gilas a 17-7 lead.

But the Argentines were simply unflappable, slowly chipping away the Filipinos' lead, throwing their full offensive might in the second half to finally pull off a narrow 85-81 decision.

On the other hand, Puerto Rico, led by NBA veteran JJ Barea, had to go through some anxious moments before finally disposing of Gilas, 77-73.

Despite a 0-4 start in the FIBA World Cup that year, Gilas continued to wield the "puso" battlecry. In its final game for the tournament, Jimmy Alapag and a young Filipino slotman in June Mar Fajardo came through with clutch baskets as Gilas pulled off an 81-79 overtime win over Senegal.

"No matter what, the puso theme, battle cry has really taken hold and gotten traction in the basketball program. I think in the end, I'm fortunate and it's something I can be proud of in building that culture," Reyes said.

"Culture outlasts personalities, culture outlasts individuals, culture is about people but it outlasts people, so hopefully, even when I'm gone, the culture remains, that no matter what happens, no one will give in. I think that's a very strong culture. Gilas is more than a brand, puso is more than a battle cry, it's really a culture."