Giles out of Smart Gilas
- Joaquin M. Henson () - November 17, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Smart-Gilas’ would-be naturalized player C. J. Giles, once considering to settle down permanently in Manila to set up a T-shirt business, has been cut from the Philippine national basketball team, it was learned yesterday.

Giles, 24, and his brother Malcolm left Manila for the US last Sunday. Giles’ former Oregon State teammate Wes, who accompanied him here, followed yesterday morning.

There was no explanation from the SBP as to why Giles was released but the speculation was he proved to be a handful for Serbian coach Rajko Toroman. Giles reportedly used to show up for practice with a hangover from heavy drinking the night before. It was also rumored that he tested positive for marijuana in a drug examination and in a fit of dysfunctional behavior, beat up his brother, banging his head on a wall to later send him to the hospital for stitches.

Giles had a history of irresponsibility as a varsity player at Kansas and Oregon State where he was similarly cut. He was once considered one of the US’ top high school cagers and even played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA preseason last year despite being undrafted.

At the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup in Jakarta early this year, Giles powered the Philippines to fifth place, averaging 18.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.3 blocked shots and 1.7 steals in six games. He played a key role in Smart-Gilas’ 98-69 masscare of Powerade Team Pilipinas in a charity exhibition game at the Araneta Coliseum last month.

A source from Smart-Gilas said Giles begged for a second chance to stay with the team but it was too late for a reconsideration. He was even granted a one-week home leave during the PBA Philippine Cup to visit his ailing four-year-old son Jaden in California and his mother in Seattle. But when he came back, Giles’ poor attitude was unchanged.

Giles sat out Smart-Gilas’ 96-95 loss to Sta. Lucia Realty last Friday, purportedly because of an ankle sprain. In his last PBA game, he scored 11 points as Smart-Gilas defeated Coca-Cola, 98-93, last Nov. 6.

“He didn’t turn out to be a good influence on his teammates,” said a source. “If he stayed, it would’ve gotten worse.”

With Giles gone for good, the SBP is now scouting for a replacement. In the short list are 7-foot Earl Barron of the University of Memphis, 6-10 Shaun Pruitt of the University of Illinois and 6-11 Jamal Sampson of the University of California at Berkeley.

Barron, 28, played for Red Bull as a PBA import in 2005 then saw action for the Miami Heat in three NBA seasons. He went on to suit up in Italy and was cut by the New Orleans Hornets during the NBA offseason. Pruitt, who turns 24 next week, averaged 12.6 points and 7.3 rebounds for Illinois in the 2007-08 NCAA campaign. Sampson, 26, was Utah’s second round pick in the 2002 NBA draft and has played for Milwaukee, the Lakers, Charlotte, Sacramento and Denver in five NBA seasons.

Sampson is highly recommended by scouts. California coach Ben Braun said, “Jamal is such a presence on the court – he’s going to alter your game from a defensive standpoint because he can block shots and offensively, he’s a legitimate threat on the block and he can step out to the high post.”

In 2004-05, Sampson averaged an NBA career high 5.3 rebounds with Charlotte. At Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, Sampson averaged 16.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots as he led the varsity to the California state title with a 33-2 record as a senior in 2000-01.

Meanwhile, Smart-Gilas is negotiating to arrange a Middle East tour next month in preparation for the Dubai invitationals on Jan. 14-21. The tour may involve playing against top-caliber clubs in Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain before overseas Filipino workers.

The proposed Middle East tour will replace the Haarlem tournament that has been scrapped this year. Smart-Gilas was booked to play in the six-team Amsterdam meet on Dec. 26-30. The competition would’ve brought in the Brazilian and Dutch national squads, the Russian national developmental team, a US collegiate selection and a top Brazilian club.

Luc Vergoossen, director of the Haarlem Basketball Week, blamed the cancellation on the tournament’s previous owner, BV Slam Amsterdam, for refusing to cooperate in the transition process. Vergoosen said the tournament will be back next year and assured Smart-Gilas of a slot in Holland’s most prestigious basketball event.

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