The return of Japan B. League mainstays and the possible inclusion of Kai Sotto on the lineup are factors preventing head coach Chot Reyes from pressing the panic button as Gilas revs up for the resumption of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers next month.
Starting 28 October, Dwight Ramos, the Ravena brothers — Kiefer and Thirdy — and Ray Parks are going to exercise their right to suit up for the national team as per directive from FIBA.
A clause in their respective contracts also stipulates that they can all perform national team duties and that when Gilas holds its practice on 31 October, Ramos, the Ravenas and Parks, would probably present.
Gilas is slated to play Jordan on 7 November and Saudi Arabia on 10 November.
Injuries on players have hampered Gilas’ preparation following the inability of June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel and Chris Newsome of Meralco to attend the training sessions.
Fajardo, the six-time Most Valuable Player, underwent operation on his throat that got accidentally hit by Rain or Shine import Steve Taylo Jr., more than a week ago.
Newsome, on the other hand, suffered a contusion on his calf which sidelined him for five games.
Still, Reyes remains unperturbed.
“That’s why we have a pool of 16 to 18 players in situations like this (injuries),” Reyes said.
“Then we have players coming from the B. League.”
Reyes is likewise hoping Kai Sotto is going to be released by his mother team, Adelaide 36ers from the National Basketball League in Australia, for the national team’s next campaign.
“There’s a directive from FIBA (International Basketball Federation) to all the leagues around the world that they won’t prevent the players playing for their national teams,” Reyes said.
“Hopefully, we can get Kai as well. Just like our players from Japan. We know that until 28 October, the players can rejoin us. We’re hoping the same for Kai.”
But Reyes clarified that the pool remains fluid and can be revised anytime, especially at times when changes call for it, such as injuries on key players.
“We didn’t decide fast that this is it, that this is our pool,” Reyes said.
“We cannot limit ourselves because it’s always a fluid thing. We can always add, we can always subtract.”
“But there are deadlines. Just like in our game against Jordan, we have to submit the names of those who are already here and practicing with us. We submitted it because of visa purposes and others.”