All in for Gilas camp
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2017 - 4:00pm

Unlike in previous training camps, cadets and veterans alike will be called to report for duty at the same time when Gilas begins practice on Nov. 3 for the Nov. 24 game against Japan in Tokyo to kick off the FIBA Asia/Pacific six-window qualifying series for the World Cup.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the PBA and SBP, cadets may be released for national team training 60 days and veterans 15 days before the opening of a sanctioned international competition such as the Asian Games, FIBA Asia Cup or any qualifying tournament for the World Cup and the Olympics. But since the next PBA season begins on Dec. 17, the distinction between cadets and veterans regarding time call-ups has been ruled out as academic.

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes recently confirmed there is no more difference on the practice time. “It used to be 60 days for cadets and 15 days for veterans but there’s no such thing now for the Nov. 3 start,” he said. As for naming the initial pool of 24 for the Japan game, Reyes said he’s in discussions with PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa. “Everything is fluid at this point,” said Reyes. “It depends on what the new arrangements are.”

Narvasa said he’s under the impression that the pool of 24 for the recent FIBA Asia Cup will hold but if Reyes plans to make changes, there must be prior clearance with PBA mother clubs. There is speculation that Reyes may insert new names like Star’s Aldrech Ramos and Barangay Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter.

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Narvasa said the operative rule is each PBA team may be tapped for at least two players for Gilas. Previously, the understanding was for one cadet and one veteran. But Narvasa said with the cadets entering their sophomore season in the PBA, the door is now open for any two players in a team. Reyes said he will confer with Narvasa on a clear ruling with regard to the no-distinction principle between cadets and veterans. This will not preclude any franchise from releasing more than two players to Gilas if Reyes makes a request and the team agrees.

Reyes rotated 31 players for the Jones Cup, FIBA Asia Cup, Southeast Asian Games and FIBA Asia Champions Cup this year. For the FIBA Asia Cup, the 12 players were Terrence Romeo, Carl Bryan Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Jio Jalalon, Jayson Castro, Raymond Almazan, JuneMar Fajardo, R. R. Pogoy, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger and Matthew Wright. 

Others who were picked to play in the Jones Cup, SEA Games and FIBA Asia Champions Cup were Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, Toto Jose, Kevin Ferrer, Kobe Paras, Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Ed Daquioag, Almond Vosotros, Von Pessumal, Fonzo Gotladera, LA Revilla, Jett Manuel, Norbert Torres, Jeron Teng, Jeric Teng, Alfrancis Tamsi, Baser Amer and Troy Rosario. The only players in the pool of 24 for the FIBA Asia Cup who didn’t see action in the four competitions this year were Andray Blatche, Kevin Alas and Allein Maliksi.

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While Gilas’ pool of 24 is still unnamed, Japan has come out with its initial list led by 6-3 Makoto Hiejima, 6-4 naturalized import Ira Brown and 6-3 Daiki Tanaka. Japan’s coach is Argentinian Julio Lamas who piloted Argentina, powered by NBA veterans Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Pablo Prigioni, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino, to fourth place at the 2012 London Olympics. Lamas, 53, was Argentina’s national coach in 1997-99 and 2010-14. 

Brown, 35, was San Miguel Beer’s import in the 2011 PBA Commissioner’s Cup and has played in the Japan league since 2012. Hiejima was the only Japanese player to average in double figure points in the last FIBA Asia Cup, hitting at a 10.8 clip. Tanaka averaged 9.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in the same tournament.

Only two players from the Japan squad that Gilas beat, 100-85, at the recent Jones Cup are in the pool of 24 – Gen Hiraiwa and Kengo Nomoto. Five players from the Japan team that the Philippines defeated, 81-70, at the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup were retained in the pool – Hiejima, Atsuya Ota, Joji Takeuchi, Tanaka and Ryumo Ono. The pool includes veteran stars Takuya Kawamura and Kosuke Kanamaru who are making a comeback with the national team. Lamas was handpicked to build up the Japanese squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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