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MISSING PIECE | Thompson shoes too big for Gilas to fill

The brand of play of Scottie Thompson will be sorely missed when Gilas Pilipinas plays in the FIBA World Cup. (FIBA)

With Scottie Thompson not around, Gilas Pilipinas will have a gaping hole at both ends when it competes in the FIBA Basketball World Cup from 25 August to 10 September.

Former national team mentor Norman Black said Thompson has been a valuable piece in Gilas coach Chot Reyes’ rotation and his absence will be a major problem for the Filipinos who are looking to come up with a solid performance in the prestigious 32-nation tournament.

Thompson has been actively involved in the Gilas program.
In fact, he was one of the players who showed up in the early stretch of their training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna and joined the camp in Estonia and Lithuania.

He, however, suffered a right metacarpal injury in the last few days of their camp in Lithuania, prompting him to miss the remainder of their preparation. Sideliners believe that it will take six to eight weeks before he gets cleared to play, effectively ruling him out of the World Cup.

In a previous interview, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial assured that the 27-year-old Thompson is doing everything to fast track his recovery and rejoin the Gilas pool.

But for Black, who was on Reyes’ staff when Gilas won the silver medal in the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship in 2013, even if Thompson gets cleared to play, he will struggle to be in perfect shape for the world’s biggest basketball event.

“More than anything else, it’s the talent of Scottie that we’re going to miss,” Black, who guided the Nationals in the Hiroshima Asian Games in 1994 and the Palembang Southeast Asian Games in 2011, said.

“He’s by far one of the best players that we have.”

Black said Thompson’s hustle, rebounding and big fighting heart will be missed.

“He started his career as a small forward and now, he is the main point guard for Gilas. People also forget that Scottie is an excellent rebounder,” he said.

“If you can get six, seven or eight rebounds per game from your guard, then that’s definitely a big lift.”

Reyes admitted that they are preparing for the possibility of not having Thompson, their chief playmaker, around.

He added that they are already grooming CJ Perez to take over his spot just in case the 6-foot-1 Thompson fails to make it.

“We were trying to have CJ as the other point guard to play that role,” said Reyes, who is using the ongoing pocket tourney in China as a chance to study the possible combinations.

“Scottie’s case is week by week depending on how his healing progresses. But remember that he is our starting point guard.”

“Right now, we’re already preparing for the eventuality that he won’t make it.”

Gilas is expected to return on 8 August with Reyes expecting Jordan Clarkson to join them and assume the playmaking chore.

“We also have another point guard who’s not yet here. His name is Jordan,” Reyes added, referring to the National Basketball Association star who has yet to join the Gilas squad with barely three weeks left before the World Cup.

“His initials are J.C.”

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