Gilas prepares for Ratliffe-led Koreans
CJ Perez

Gilas prepares for Ratliffe-led Koreans

John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is moving forward in its bid to hold fort in next month’s FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers third window despite having only a few PBA players to reinforce the cadet-laden Gilas squad.

From the original SBP wish list of more than 15 PBA players, only CJ Perez, Kiefer Ravena, Troy Rosario, Justin Chua, RR Pogoy and Raul Soyud made it to the training bubble in Calamba, Laguna with no other other pros expected to join.

Also in the camp are cadets Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt and Mike Nieto, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Will Navarro, Calvin Oftana, Kemark Carino, Dave Ildefonso, Ange Kouame and Justine Baltazar under the tutelage of coaches Jong Uichico, Norman Black, Caloy Garcia, Sandy Arespacochaga and program director Tab Baldwin.

Meanwhile, South Korea announced its final 12-man roster bannered by former PBA import Ricardo Ratliffe (now known as Ra Gun-A after his naturalization) for a killer four-game schedule, including two matches against Gilas after skipping the last window in Bahrain.

And while more PBA standouts could be a welcome addition, it’s no problem for SBP, which is focused on squeezing the best from the current pool for the Feb. 18-22 tourney in Clark, Pampanga, according to Ryan Gregorio, special assistant to SBP president Al Panlilio.

“We have to understand that if you get invited, it’s purely voluntary in nature. If you have reasons, we’re not gonna dive into it and analyze it too much. We’re gonna move forward right away. And all the reasons presented to us were pretty much acceptable,” he said in yesterday’s Power and Play program of former PBA commissioner Noli Eala.

“Let’s not discuss the players that are not in the bubble. But rather, let’s talk about who are in the bubble making huge sacrifices personally so that they can serve our flag and country,” he added, reiterating the valid reasons of other pros such as injuries and travel restrictions from overseas.

Without a bevy of PBA stalwarts, Gilas may be in for a tougher task against the South Koreans.

“Things are going to be a little bit harder but we have longer preparation this time and we still have a lot of time left before February. That’s our upside,” Gregorio added.

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