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Troubled Gilas leave for China

GILAS Pilipinas naturalized player Justin Bronwlee is not yet in fighting form heading into the men’s basketball event of the 19th Asian Games. | Photograph courtesy of PBA

Gilas Pilipinas is set to leave for Hangzhou on Sunday despite the uncertainty surrounding its roster for the men’s basketball competition of the 19th Asian Games.

Gilas coach Tim Cone already dropped the idea of including Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins, Mo Tautuaa and Terrence Romeo in their final roster after the Asian Games organizers sent feelers that their appeal will be denied.

With that, they recruited new players in CJ Perez, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino and Chris Ross while enlisting Marcio Lassiter as replacement for injured Roger Pogoy.

Cone already integrated Perez, Alas, Tolentino, Ross and Lassiter into his system and deployed them in their tuneup match against Changwon LG Sakers of South Korea last Friday at the Philsports Arena.

But the Philippine Olympic Committee said there is still a chance for Abueva, Perkins, Tautaa and Romeo to suit up as the organizers have yet to decide with finality.

Cone said they will stick with their original choices if and when the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee suddenly decides in their favor.

But right now, everything remains hanging and they are fielding their back-up plan in the quartet of Perez, Alas, Tolentino and Ross.

“They’re here, but Calvin couldn’t make it because he had problems with his kids,” Cone said after beating the South Koreans, 86-81, with Perkins, Tautuaa and Romeo cheering at the sidelines.

“We really appreciate that they came here and sat in the crowd and joined us in the locker room. That was really cool of them being here.”

Cone, the last coach to lead the Filipinos to an Asian Games medal in 1998, said their appeal to field them remains hanging.

“Is there no hope for them? They’re breathing. That’s what I can say. They’re breathing at this point, meaning they’re still alive. We’re still working on it and hopefully we can finalize it before we leave,” he said.

“But by and large, we have our 12 right now and they continue to practice. If they come in suddenly, should we take them? That’s the decision we have to make and I think it’s likely that we will because they’re actually longer with us than the new guys and they have value in terms of size.”

Aside from the cloud of doubt hovering over the Filipino cagers, their naturalized player in Justin Brownlee admitted that he is not yet in fighting form heading into their first game against Bahrain at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium on Tuesday.

“Yes, there’s still discomfort,” said Brownlee, who underwent an operation to remove bone spurs on his foot during the country’s hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

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