There was a time when Chot Reyes used to play the role as the star point guard.
With five guards in the family, the Reyes Brothers were a formidable unit once put together in one team.
“Sa mga liga-liga, lalo na sa mga inter-village, it’s very hard to beat the Reyes Brothers. Limang guwardiya kami, para kaming security agency,” Reyes told The Link during a podcast interview. “Limang guwardiya kami, pero hindi mo matatawid ‘yung bola sa half court. Kasi full court press kami all the way.”
There, in the Inter-Village Tournaments, Reyes would meet a familiar face who would become his future coach and nemesis -- Tim Cone. Reyes would beat Cone’s squad in the “ligang labas”and a few years after, the American mentor would ask the former to become one of his assistant coaches at Alaska in the PBA.
Chot was definitely the finest player in the family until his younger brother, Jun, became the hero in Ateneo when the latter led the squad to back-to-back championships in 1987 and 1988.
Hardly known to many, Chot was a crack point guard for the Ateneo Blue Eagles. He would make it to the Mythical Team of the UAAP in 1984 joining future PBA stars like Allan Caidic and Jerry Codiñera of University of the East, Pido Jarencio of University of Santo Tomas, and Glenn Capacio of Far Eastern University, but an MCL injury (knee injury) would practically end Reyes’ playing career and soon after, he would embark in a coaching career.
He coached the Ateneo high school squad, led by the great Danny Francisco to a perfect season all the way to winning a championship during the mid-80s and soon after, Reyes would work in the corporate world.
When he became an executive of Purefoods, part of his task was convincing then president, Rene Buhain to put up a team in the PABL and eventually, the PBA. Then owned by Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Purefoods acquired the old Tanduay franchise of the Elizaldes and included in the deal was to bring along the veterans of the squad led by Ramon Fernandez, Freddie Hubalde, JB Yango, Padim Israel, Willie Generelao and Onchie Dela Cruz.
To sweeten the deal, the Hotdogs were also allowed to elevate four players directly from the PABL, plus the top overall pick in the Rookie Draft. Purefoods named Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codiñera, Jojo Lastimosa and Glenn Capacio as its direct hire. Patrimonio had to finish his contractual obligations with Swift, before joining Purefoods in the All-Filipino. The Hotdogs used the top overall pick in choosing Jack Tanuan.
It was the best deal received by any other expansion clubs to enter the PBA, making Purefoods one of the most storied franchises in league history.
Chot didn’t become a head coach of Purefoods until 1993, when he quickly led the team, then carrying the name Coney Island, to a championship in the All-Filipino and a finals’ stint in the Commissioner’s Cup in just his rookie season. He would lead the squad to yet another title ruin in the 1994 Commissioner’s Cup before moving to coach Sta. Lucia in 1997.
One of the successful coaches in PBA history, Reyes would also win championships with Coca-Cola (2002 All-Filipino and 2003 Reinforced Conference), and TNT (2009 Philippine Cup, 2011 Phlippine Cup, 2011 Commissioner’s Cup, and 2012 Philippine Cup).
But he would be remembered by Filipino basketball fans with his “Puso” mantra, which is still important at this time of pandemic. Puso was the main reason why Gilas Pilipinas ended the Korean curse, when the Filipinos defeated South Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, which served as the Philippines’ ticket meal back to the world stage for the first time in 40 years.
Perhaps, it was also “puso” that enabled Reyes, a pint-sized guard, to hold his own against the finest players in the UAAP at that time. If Caidic and Codiñera would become two of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players and Jarencio and Capacio would turn out to be star players for their respective squads, it won’t be possible for Reyes to crack PBA stardom had he been spared of a knee injury, which was at that time considered as a career-ending one.
At least, once in his career, Reyes became one of the elites considered as the star point guard.