Gilas bares ‘incomplete’ FIBA lineup
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - August 2, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the Gilas Pilipinas pool will be formally announced anytime today, then they will gather at the Meralco Gym for their first official practice, starting a two-month training that hopefully is enough to achieve its goal of nailing  down the lone Olympic berth to be disputed in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China.

Gilas team manager Butch Antonio said they will name 16 to 20 players to the “working pool” led by naturalized player Andray Blatche who was to arrive from the United States last night.

It’s called a working pool as it will be flexible, meaning the list may be expanded as other players become available. Junmar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Marc Pingris and Marcio Lassiter are said to be either nursing an injury or attending to personal matters.

“We’ve yet to finalize the list. PBA commissioner Chito Salud is helping out for us to come out with the best team possible,” said Antonio.

Fajardo, the reigning back-to-back PBA MVP awardee, is doubtful due to a foot injury.

“We’ll have to wait for whatever is his status. His team will have him checked,” said Antonio on the 6-foot-10 behemoth who could form a solid frontline tandem with Blatche.

 Players who made themselves available in the informal Gilas practices that started Wednesday included Ranidel de Ocampo, Jayson Castro, Gary David, Sonny Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros, Terrence Romeo, Asi Taulava, Aldrech Ramos, JC Intal, Matt Ganuelas, Gabe Norwood and pro-bound Troy Rosario.

LA Tenorio has begged off from joining the pool, citing fatigue and poor form as reasons. Fajardo and Aguilar have hinted they may not be ready to join the pool due to health woes while Pingris and Lassiter have left the country to attend to personal matters.

There’s also doubt on the status of Greg Slaughter, Paul Lee and Jeff Chan.

Meanwhile, Filipino basketball fans have voiced out their opinion, flooding the social media with their disgust over the lack of interest by a big number of players to render service to the national team.

 Also being hit are the PBA and some PBA ball clubs.

Scathing remarks were thrown at them in a Facebook post shared by Pilipinas Basketball to the public.

“The Filipino basketball fan deserves the best. Let PBA players play for country not just for money,” says the Facebook post that has gone viral.

But hopes are high Team Phl will be competitive with Blatche leading the campaign in the Chinese joust slated Sept. 23 to Oct. 3.

The nine-year NBA veteran is expected to be a dominant force in the Asian meet as he was in his first season in the Chinese Basketball Association where he averaged 31.1 points, 14.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

He was among the best performers in the last World Cup where he normed 21.2 points and 13.8 rebounds a game. He collected 18 markers and 14 boards to help the Philippines to its first “WC” win in 40 years, edging Senegal, 81-79, in overtime.

He played so well in his first season in the CBA that he merited a three-year contract-extension deal with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers worth $7.5 million.

The question is who will be the PBA players to be put around Blatche.

“PBA chairman Pato Gregorio and commissioner Chito Salud want the best possible team that we can form. But if players are injured or must attend to personal priorities, we’ve just got to learn to cope. We’ll try our best to work things out. We’re not closing doors on anyone,” said Gregorio.


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