There are several multi-titled coaches in the PBA, such as Leo Austria, Norman Black, Tim Cone, Baby Dalupan, Yeng Guiao, Chot Reyes and Jong Uichico. In this series, we identify the all-time starting five of these seven coaches, choosing from all the players each one has ever coached.
The picture should still be stuck in our memories: Chot Reyes, in tears, pounding his chest, as he basked in the celebration of fans inside the Mall of Asia Arena. In that moment, Gilas Pilipinas had just booked their ticket to Spain for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the Philippines' first appearance in 40 years. That is certainly one of the most memorable moments in Reyes' coaching career.
However, that should not overshadow the fact that even before that feat, Reyes was already the only five-time PBA Coach of the Year. In his years barking from the sidelines, Reyes had mentored some of the biggest stars that ever set foot on a PBA hardcourt. That is, of course, apart from the time he was head coach of the Philippine national team.
Let's try to put together Chot Reyes' all-time PBA starting five:
Guard: 2011 Jimmy Alapag
They say the point guard is the coach's extension on the court. That was exactly what Alapag was for Reyes. From Talk 'N Text to Gilas Pilipinas, the undeniable connection between the two was visible every single game. By 2011, The Mighty Mouse was already in his ninth year in the league. He was closer to his curtain call than he was to his opening act. But he was still able to lead the Tropang Texters to two championships. He shared the Finals MVP with Jayson Castro both times, won Best Player of the Conference in the Commissioner's Cup, and was named season MVP.
Alapag and Reyes won multiple championships with Talk 'N Text. Shortly after Coach Chot's departure from the franchise, the two reunited at Gilas Pilipinas. You all know the story. They continued their winning ways in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and put the Philippines back on the global map of basketball.
Later down the road, the duo remained inseparable. But it was no longer a coach-player relationship as Reyes got Alapag as one of his assistant coaches with the national team.
Guard: 2011 Jayson Castro
Some of the most fearful yet usually inevitable phenomenon in a sports franchise is rebuilding. That transition period where you have to hone a new superstar or, in some cases, completely shake up the composition of the team. That was something that Reyes did not really have to worry about with Talk 'N Text. Because in 2011, while Alapag was still in MVP form, Jayson Castro nobly introduced himself as the next in line. Castro had been a contributor for Talk 'N Text by that time. But it was the two times that he held the Finals MVP trophy alongside Alapag that truly announced his readiness for the bright lights.
Reyes knew exactly how to utilize his quick guard. He had one of the best shooters in Alapag. Then, he had one of the most explosive players in Castro. Well, the truth was that Coach Chot was out of Talk 'N Text by the time "The Blur" had peaked in his PBA career. But we all know that he was still able to maximize the skills and ability of Castro with Gilas Pilipinas. In 2013, when Gilas took silver in the FIBA Asia Championship, Castro was named into the Mythical Team. He was rightfully referred to as the Best Point Guard in Asia.
Reyes saw Castro's growth in his early years with Talk 'N Text. He watched him blossom into a bonafide superstar not only for the franchise but also for the national team.
Forward: 1993 Alvin Patrimonio
It was 1993 when Chot Reyes officially became a PBA head coach. He was 29 years old and was asked to lead the Coney Island Ice Cream Stars to the coveted crown. It was a daunting task, but what Reyes had on his side was an Alvin Patrimonio that was reaching the peak of his potential. Reyes was quick to figure out the best way to maximize his franchise player. The result? A championship in his very conference as head coach.
Patrimonio was the complete offensive package for a forward. He had the ability to back down defenders and he also had a face-up game. He could also hurt you with jumpers. The moment he got the tiniest room to attack, it was an almost sure two points. Many times, he missed. But almost as many times, he got the offensive rebound and got the putback. His talent and his motor complemented each other.
Patrimonio continued his dominance over the league in the next few years. With Reyes at the helm, "The Captain" won back-to-back season MVP awards in 1993 and 1994. Changing its name to the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs, the franchise won another title in the 1994 Commissioner's Cup.
Forward: 2012 Ranidel de Ocampo
In the early 2010s, the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters were the team to beat. They were winning championships left and right behind the brilliance of Alapag, Castro and the rest of their star-studded roster. While the two guards manned the perimeter, down in the block was Ranidel de Ocampo.
De Ocampo joined Talk 'N Text via a trade in 2008 - Reyes' first year with the team. However, Reyes was already in his tail years with the franchise when RDO fully emerged as a major weapon. But through Coach Chot's years at the forefront of the team, De Ocampo had always been reliable. RDO's game had similarities with that of Patrimonio's. Perhaps, that one reason why Reyes knew what he could get from him. He was also versatile - he could operate in the post as well as he could shoot from outside. De Ocampo even had range from deep.
Like his then teammates Alapag and Castro, RDO was reunited with Reyes in Gilas Pilipinas. As a big man with range, he was effective in the international game.
Recently, RDO announced his retirement from the PBA. In a video, Reyes said: "For me, Ranidel is a coach's dream. He's a type of player that we call, highly skilled, low maintenance."
Center: 1993 Jerry Codiñera
There this one phrase we always hear in team sports: play your role. If there's one player who took this to heart, it was Jerry Codiñera. He was playing alongside Alvin Patrimonio, one of the most dominant offensive forces the PBA had ever seen. Yet, he found a way to stay relevant and earn a spot among the PBA's 25 Greatest Players. How? By playing his role.
Coaching Purefoods, Reyes had two incredible weapons on both ends of the floor. Patrimonio was in charge of scoring while Codiñera was tasked to make it difficult for opponents to score. Both bought into the system and it produced two championships. Codiñera's moniker, "The Defense Minister", perfectly describes his value on the court. Of course, he could score too. But it wasn't his primary job. By holding down the fort, by going after as many rebounds as he could, he was able to get his share of points.
The Patrimonio-Codiñera duo was - like what Chot called RDO - a coach's dream. The job became easy for Reyes having the two players on his team. But it also takes the brilliance of the coach to make the tandem work as well as it did.
6th man: 2002-2003 Jeffrey Cariaso
By the time Jeffrey Cariaso joined the Coca-Cola Tigers in 2001, he already had five PBA championships. By the time Reyes was hired by Coca-Cola in 2002, he already had two PBA titles. Together, along with key players Johnny Abarrientos and Rudy Hatfield, Cariaso and Reyes added more trophies to their collection.
From the time Reyes took the lead with the Tigers, Cariaso was already an important figure in his system. In the 2002 All-Filipino Cup, Cariaso was clearly the main man. He was leading the way until an injury sidelined him in the playoffs. Still, he was named Best Player of the Conference and was selected to the PBA First Mythical Team.
When he returned, though, he picked up right where he left off. And his redemption came in the 2003 Reinforced Conference. Backed by Artemus McClary, Coca-Cola defeated San Miguel in the Finals, 4-3. Healthy this time around, Cariaso was awarded Finals MVP. By season's end, he was named to the PBA First Mythical Team for the second year in a row.