Gilas taps Chua to beef up frontline
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With its frontline thinning, Gilas Pilipinas called up Phoenix Pulse’s big man Justin Chua to reinforce the Philippine pool that’s building up for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ opening window against Thailand on Feb. 20 and Indonesia on Feb. 23.

The 6-foot-6 Chua came on board just as Gilas is adjusting to the withdrawal of bigs Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger and Mac Belo. Aguilar begged off from the two games for his delayed honeymoon while Standhardinger and Belo are nursing knee injuries.

“I’m really excited kasi ang tagal ko na pangarap maglaro talaga for GIlas,” said Chua, who joined Poy Erram, Isaac Go and Justin Baltazar in coach Mark Dickel’s front-court prospects. “Really happy to help and learn from veteran coaches.”

“The guys that we like are the guys that have a lot of energy, a lot of toughness. Justin certainly fits that,” said Gilas program director Tab Baldwin of the latest addition.

Meanwhile, the Gilas coaching staff designated Kiefer Ravena as skipper of the hybrid pool of pros and collegiate standouts.

“I think it suits him. You know he’s talkative, he’s communicative. It’s his turf. I feel like he’s more than capable of taking that role and doing a great job with it,” said Dickel.

“And I think for what we’re trying to build here with the coaches, with coach Tab, we want everyone to be like that but it got to start with one guy first,” he added.

Ravena embraced the challenge, adding having seasoned Marc Pingris and fellow World Cup vets Troy Rosario, RR Pogoy and CJ Perez around will help him get the job done.         

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