Chot Reyes reassesses 12-man lineup
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2018 - 12:00am

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes was ready to announce the 12-man lineup for the coming Australia game last Friday but held back when the PBA decided not to release players unconditionally until the national team leaves for Melbourne on Feb. 19.

Reyes started daily Gilas practice the other day, preparing the troops for the road game against the Boomers at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne on Feb. 22. Since the start of the year, Gilas held only three Monday workouts but beginning this week, it’ll be an everyday grind. However, the PBA said Gilas players will report to practice with their PBA mother teams a day before a scheduled PBA game and suit up for the contest. Otherwise, Gilas players from the PBA will report daily for workouts with the national squad.

“We were supposed to announce the final 12 last Friday but we weren’t allowed by the PBA to pull out players to practice full-time so we have to reassess,” said Reyes.  As for naturalized import Andray Blatche who arrived here Friday night, Reyes said it remains to be seen if he’s in game shape or not. Reyes noted that Blatche has lost “a lot of weight.”

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For the second window of the FIBA Asia/Pacific qualifiers leading to the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the SBP submitted a 20-man roster within the Feb. 5 deadline. Reyes could have named up to 24 but opted to list only 20. That means for the Philippines’ games against Australia on Feb. 22 and Japan on Feb. 25, Reyes may suit up any 12 players from the 20-man roster.  The deadline to submit the 12-man lineup falls during the team managers’ meeting the day before each game so Reyes is in no hurry to disclose his picks for Australia.

The 20 players in the Gilas roster for the second window are Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan, Mac Belo, R. R. Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Jayson Castro, Matthew Wright, Gabe Norwood, JuneMar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Terrence Romeo, Blatche, C. J. Perez, Robert Bolick, Abu Tratter, Jio Jalalon, Allein Maliksi and Carl Bryan Cruz. The only players not in the PBA are Perez of Lyceum, Bolick of San Beda and Tratter of La Salle.

Struck out from the 24-man pool for the first window were Kevin Ferrer, L. A. Revilla, Russel Escoto, Aldrech Ramos, Baser Amer, Mike Tolomia and Von Pessumal. Reyes used the same 12-man cast for the Philippines’ 77-71 win over Japan and the 90-83 decision over Chinese-Taipei in the first window. The 12 players were Abueva, Aguilar, Fajardo, Blatche, Ravena, Alas, Norwood, Rosario, Castro, Wright, Maliksi and Pogoy. 

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Over a week ago, Reyes said Abueva and Almazan would not play in the second window because of absences from practice. Belo and Rosario sat out their last PBA games due to injury and may also not be included. Romeo has not played in the PBA this season and said he’ll be back next conference so he, too, will be missing in Melbourne. Abueva, however, reported for practice last Monday and his presence reopened the possibility of joining the squad in Melbourne.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said the Board of Governors has now allowed “open” recruitment for Gilas, meaning Reyes is no longer restricted to naming one veteran and one former cadet from each team which was the previous limitation. In Reyes’ 20-man lineup for the second window, the PBA teams with multiple recruits are NLEX with Ravena and Alas, TNT with Castro, Pogoy and Rosario, Blackwater with Belo and Maliksi, Rain Or Shine with Norwood and Almazan and Alaska with Abueva and Cruz.

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