There is more to combo guard Ryan Reyes than just his defensive prowess—and that’s enough to keep Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin beaming these days.
The 6-foot-2 Reyes, 32, stepped up in the absence of gunner Marcio Lassiter on Wednesday night, providing the outside sniping that the Nationals needed in the course of their 81-70 victory over Asian powerhouse Iran in their televised tuneup match at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
More known for his pesky defense against opposing guards, Reyes proved why he’s once considered as one of the pro league’s top two-way players as he waxed hot from beyond the arc, drilling in three of his four made triples in the third canto where the Nationals led by as many as 23 points at 67-44.
Baldwin, 58 was hardly surprised with the vintage performance of Reyes, a former Rookie of the Year awardee in the pro ranks back in 2008.
“Ryan is just a guy I really like a lot. I think he understand my confidence in him. He plays very comfortably with me,” gushed the American-Kiwi coach who also started Reyes alongside regular starters Jayson Castro-William, Gabe Norwood, Marc Pingris and naturalized player Andray Blatche.
“That was no mistake, that was no fluke that he started. I’m very confident on Ryan,” added Baldwin, who added Reyes failed to see action in the final frame due to his nagging Achilles.
But Reyes has already made the damage on the Iranians.
“I think he’s one of the best players you that can have out on the floor in any situation because he’s intelligent, he’s defensively tough, he’s physically very tough and when he’s hitting shots, then you have the best of both worlds with him. Tonight I thought he played really well,” said Baldwin.
Reyes, who also attended to Cal State-Fullerton like Gilas 4.0 aspirant Marcio Lassiter, sounded pleased with his individual performance.
“I just felt good today, so I just kept shooting. These guys keep giving me the ball and, when I was open, just threw it up there,” he said.
“Like coach said, this is a free-willing offense, he lets everyone to take the shot when we are open.”
But Reyes knows taking—and making—those kind of shots won’t get any easier when they face taller guards from France and New Zealand, their preliminary rivals in the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament set from July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I might not get a good look like that especially with the guys that are tall, long and fast,” he said. “Again, I will continue to play the defense that I play, it’s a lot of adjustments. These guys are a lot bigger, a lot quicker and we should be aware at all times.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports