Unless injuries continue to pile up or untoward incidents happen, Gilas Pilipinas is determined to stick to its current pool where the final roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup will be drawn.
Gilas team manager Butch Antonio told Daily Tribune that they are no longer keen to add names in the pool, saying that they have to live and die with those who are showing up for training.
Aside from the 16 players who are training regularly, Antonio said they are also counting on National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto to show up and reinforce them in the World Cup that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September.
“That’s basically it,” said Antonio when asked about the possibility of tapping players from the Philippine Basketball Association.
“These guys, plus Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto, will be enough, so that’s a total of 18 players, all vying for spots for the World Cup.”
The possibility of jacking up the pool with additional personnel cropped up after Gilas coach Chot Reyes sat down with PBA chairperson Ricky Vargas and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel governor Alfrancis Chua with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chief Al Panlilio.
But Reyes seems to have a change of heart and abandoned the idea of getting additional support.
“Considering the sacrifices these players went through and their commitment they’ve shown, we want to reward their efforts. These are the pool members,” Antonio said.
Dwight Ramos and AJ Edu, who were nursing separate injuries during their European training camps, were already cleared to play and had joined the live drills.
Ramos twisted his knee, but a magnetic resonance imaging result revealed no damage.
‘That’s basically it.’
The 6-foot-10 Edu joined Gilas with a nagging ankle injury that prevented him from participating in contact drills for the majority part of the restart of their training from Manila, Laguna, Estonia and Lithuania.
But Edu returned home healthier and has definitely recovered from the injury.
Roger Pogoy is close to full recovery as his fractured pinky just needs a few more days of strengthening, although he had been participating in the shooting drills.
All in all, Gilas Pilipinas members appear to be all locked in as they continue their buildup for the biggest basketball event in the world.
Other pool members who religiously attending the workouts are naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame, mainstays June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar, Jamie Malonzo, Calvin Oftana, Chris Newsome, CJ Perez, Poy Erram, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks and Rhenz Abando.
Kouame, however, will be loaned to Rain or Shine in the next few days when the team represents the PBA for the coming William Jones Cup tournament in Taipei starting 12 August.