Gilas final 12 known today
Entering the bubble: Gilas Pilipinas players undergo safety protocols upon arrival last Sunday at Quest Hotel and Conference Center in Clark for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Gilas final 12 known today

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - June 15, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is confident that youth-laden Gilas Pilipinas will deliver a strong performance against fancied opponents in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers beginning tomorrow in Clark, Pampanga.

“We’re ready to compete and the goal is always to have an opportunity to win,” said Ryan Gregorio, special assistant to SBP president Al Panlilio.

Gregorio said the all-cadet crew led by naturalized player Ange Kouame and PBA draftee Isaac Go has been hard at work preparing for the tough battle against South Korea and Indonesia in the tournament that runs until Sunday.

The SBP will name the Final 12 today.

“We’ve been working out the past nine weeks and we’re now playing our first game on Wednesday (tomorrow) against Korea, two days after Indonesia and on the 20th against Korea (again),” he said.

Fifteen players, including US-based Kai Sotto, checked in at FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers bubble in Clark last Sunday. They spent the required one-day quarantine at Quest Hotel while waiting for the results of their RT-PCR tests.

“Hopefully, the Final 12 we’ll choose will be able to compete at a high level and find ways to win,” said Gregorio of the squad to be coached by Gilas program director Tab Baldwin.

The youngsters’ baptism of fire against the Ricardo Ratliffe-led Koreans and the Lester Prosper-bannered Indonesians will serve them well in the long run.

“This is really a developmental team, a very young team and we hope we can get the necessary experience for us to compete at a very high level in the 2023 FIBA World Cup,” said Gregorio.

“Whatever progress we get from today is actually one step towards our goal to be competitive in 2023,” he added.

As teams started arriving in Clark, officials expressed confidence that the staging of the event would help breathe life to the Philippines as a preferred site for international events.

National Task Force against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer and Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and CEO Vince Dizon said the seven-nation bubble tournament is a positive sign.

“This is the first international sporting event since we went through this very difficult time,” Dizon said in a presscon yesterday.

“Seeing Gilas Pilipinas compete here in our home is such a welcome sight and gives us so much hope that we are towards the tailend of this difficult time,” he said.

South Korea was the first to check-in at Quest Hotel after landing at Clark International Airport.

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