Alas, Oftana, Malonzo link up with Gilas

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Here comes the cavalry for Gilas Pilipinas.

NLEX stalwarts Kevin Alas and Calvin Oftana and NorthPort’s Jamie Malonzo were the first among the reinforcements from the PBA to link up with the core of the shorthanded Gilas crew that saw action in the last FIBA Asia Cup.

Alas and Oftana, both returnees to the national pool, and Malonzo, a fresh face, joined Gilas regulars Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, Kevin Quiambao, Carl Tamayo and Francis Lopez at the start of the Gilas training camp Monday.

They form part of the initial pool for the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers’ fourth window which will be bannered by Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson and seven-foot NBA hopeful Kai Sotto. Clarkson and Sotto are scheduled to arrive this week.

More pros are expected in the next couple of days.

Per reports, Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang and Jio Jalalon, who just wrapped up their stint in the Philippine Cup semifinals, and Barangay Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Arvin Tolentino, are set to come on board as do NorthPort’s Robert Bolick, who played in the 2019 World Cup, and free agent Roosevelt Adams.

Also said to be listed in the preliminary pool are San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez and Meralco’s Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi and Raymond Almazan. However, their participation will likely depend on whether or not their respective teams will make it to the PBA finals, which will run smack into Gilas’ games against Lebanon (Aug. 25) and Saudi Arabia (Aug. 29).

Gilas coach Chot Reyes conducted the team’s maiden closed-door session at the Meralco Gym with assistants Josh Reyes and Tim Cone.

“The first day of practice covered shooting drills with several variations and fast ball movement, with Cone, a two-time champion in the PBA, providing inputs,” the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas reported.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios dropped by to “assure the players of the whole basketball community’s support and prayers.”


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