NBA
26-member RP pool named
- Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran () - February 2, 2003 - 12:00am
A pool of 26 young, talented players from the collegiate ranks has been named Friday night – a crack roster from which the Philippine team to three international basketball competitions this year will be culled.

University of the East aces James Yap, Paul Artadi and Nino Canaleta and Ateneo stalwarts Rich Alvarez and Wesley Gonzales led the cast which survived a two-month tryout conducted by coach Aric del Rosario.

Del Rosario told The STAR he also picked pointguards Celino Cruz, Dennis Madrid, Loreto Soriano and Jun Peter Simon, off-guards Olan Omiping, Jamal Vizcarra, Mark Bravo, Don Villamin and Emerson Oreta and big men Mark Macapagal, Chris Luanzon, Mark Isip, Ronald Capati, Marc Pingris, Gerard Jones, Al Magpayo, Alwyn Espiritu and Bernzon Franco.

John O mainstays Ranidel Ocampo and Al Vergara, two players who could have been a cinch to make it to the RP team, were not included in the list after they stopped attending the tryouts.

Del Rosario said he invited University of Visayas stars Neil Raneses and Joseph Quinahan to attend the tryout but the Cebuano players didn’t show up. The 6-foot-4 Raneses and the 6-foot-6 Quinahan made good accounts for themselves during the recent Champions League where they powered the Green Lancers to the Final Four.

"I invited them (Raneses and Quinahan) to join the tryouts through coach Boy Cabahug pero baka hindi interesado o ayaw mapabayaan ang kanilang pag-aaral," said Del Rosario.

But even without Ocampo, Vergara, Raneses and Quinahan, Del Rosario said the pool is formidable enough to defend the country’s crowns in the Southeast Basketball Association (SEABA) Men’s Championship in April and the SEA Games in December.

The RP team is also set to make a return stint in the Asian Basketball Confederation Men’s Championship in September after being banned from all FIBA competitions last year due to the leadership row at the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP).

"We’ve got a good pool of players. It is tall which can play up-tempo, can shoot from the outside and can play good defense. Depensa at takbuhan ang magiging bala ng team na ito," said Del Rosario, who has experienced deputies in Boyzie Zamar and Dong Vergeire.

The RP coaching staff formed the national pool Friday night as Del Rosario is set to leave for Australia today with the Talk N Text team which is to play the Melbourne Tigers in a series of exhibition games as part of its preparation for the coming PBA wars. Zamar and Vergeire call the shots while Del Rosario is out of the country.

Del Rosario intends to keep the pool in a long-term plan patterned after that of the highly-successful Northern Cement Consolidated in the 80s.

"Ang magiging problema lang namin ay kung biglang hindi sila
(the players) ipahiram sa amin ng mother clubs nila sa PBL. But we’ll make representations with the PBL and the PBL teams. Makikiusap kaming tulungan kami sa programa," said Del Rosario.

Practically all the pool members are PBL mainstays.

This early, Del Rosario already has the core of his would-be team in mind.

He said he’ll have a potential starting lineup in 5-foot-10 Artadi at the point, 6-foot-3 Yap at off-guard, 6-foot-4 Macapagal at small forward, 6-foot-6 Pingris at power forward and 6-foot-5 Espiritu at center. The second team could be Cruz, Gonzales, Alvarez, Franco and Magpayo.

The Nationals defend their SEABA crown right here in Manila in April. They compete in the ABC tourney in China in September and try to extend their reign as SEAG champions in Vietnam in December.

AL MAGPAYO ALWYN ESPIRITU AND BERNZON FRANCO ASIAN BASKETBALL CONFEDERATION MEN BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES BOY CABAHUG BOYZIE ZAMAR AND DONG VERGEIRE CELINO CRUZ DEL DEL ROSARIO RANESES AND QUINAHAN ROSARIO
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