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Monday, March 4, 2024

Gilas coach keeps options open on team composition

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New appointed Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes is not closing the door on any PBA player or players who may beef up the team for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers slated Feb. 24 to 28 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Chot Reyes

“We want to keep our options open,” said Reyes, who is overseeing the training of the Gilas squad, backstopped by a handful of players from TNT at the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club in Lipa, Batangas.

“It’s work in progress. We’re not announcing any lineup precisely because we don’t know what the final lineup will be. There’s no final determination yet,” he told the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.

Also gracing the forum was Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios, who gave an update on the preparations for the coming event, particularly those dealing with the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Barrios said he’s been in constant touch with FIBA officials.

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“There are so many details on protocols. As of yesterday, the FIBA was updating us and they’ve decided on everyday antigen testing for participants in the qualifiers. We thought it would be RT-PCR testing upon arrival and on the fifth day, then we got word FIBA wants everyday antigen testing,” said Barrios.

The Gilas squad, whose composition was greatly affected by the pandemic and the exodus of players to Japan, is undergoing a major facelift under Reyes barely three weeks left before the FIBA event, where the Filipinos will face South Korea twice, New Zealand, and India.

Among the Gilas players in the fold are Will Navarro, Juan Gomez de Liano, Dwight Ramos, Jaydee Tungcab, Tzaddy Rangel, and naturalized player Ange Kouame. TNT players in the camp include veteran internationalists Troy Rosario, RR Pogoy, and Poy Erram.

Reyes said any other TNT player may be called in to help in any capacity as well as from other PBA ballclubs, stressing that “options are open.”

Regardless of the result in the qualifiers, the Philippines is already in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which it will co-host with Japan and Indonesia.

Barrios said the event set this month is “a small step” compared to the magnitude of the World Cup in August next year, but added that the country is fortunate to be given a chance to host the qualifiers.

“So we can go through the system, which will include physical improvements and specifications at the Araneta Coliseum, and the other playing venues and the hotels,” said the former PBA commissioner.

Reyes said the forthcoming event is not a do-or-die situation for Gilas but stressed that the SBP has no plans of taking the competition lightly especially because they’re playing before home fans.

“Hindi naman papayag ang SBP na bale-walain natin ito,” added Reyes during the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Unilever and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

That’s precisely the reason why Reyes, who steered Gilas back in the world map with its stint at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, is leaving no stone unturned forming a competitive squad despite the time limitations.

“So far, we’ve had four practices and what I’m seeing is very encouraging. The initial results are very promising but again, iba ang practices sa actual games,” said the multi-titled coach.

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