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Sports

One more for Gilas pool

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
One more for Gilas pool
Tim Cone
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas

Gilas coach Tim Cone has added two players to the Gilas pool from which to choose who will suit up for the country in the coming international competitions starting with the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Latvia on July 2-7Cone initially named 12 to the pool but later decided to expand the list to 14 to cover for injuries or other reasons that may make some players unavailable.

Since Cone took over the Gilas reins in the Hangzhou Asian Games last year, he has deployed 16 playersThe pool now lists Japeth Aguilar, 37, Justin Brownlee, 35, June Mar Fajardo, 34, Chris Newsome, 33, CJ Perez, 30, Scottie Thompson, 30, Calvin Oftana, 28, Jamie Malonzo, 27, Dwight Ramos, 25, AJ Edu, 24, Carl Tamayo, 23, Kevin Quiambao, 22, Kai Sotto, 21, and Mason Amos, 21The late additions were Aguilar and Amos.

The players who saw action in Hangzhou but are not in the pool are Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter and Ange KouameDuring the first FIBA Asia Cup qualifying window last February, Cone grappled with injury issues and brought in Aguilarwho had previously announced his retirement from Gilas dutyto take over from Edu while leaving Fajardos spot vacantHe played the opening game against Hong Kong with an 11-man rosterIn the next contest against Chinese-Taipei, Malonzo was unavailable so Cone was down to 10 menCone realized that in future battles where the competition will be tougher, no less than a full lineup has to be on deck.

Bringing back Aguilar was a no brainerAlthough now the oldest in the pool, he remains a key piece in Cones big-man rotationAguilar knows Cones system well, fits the triangle, blocks shots, executes the pick-and-roll, has a reliable mid-ranger and can play three, four or five. His size, style, versatility and experience are invaluableAmos has been in the Gilas conversation for months and his addition is an infusion of youth, outside shooting ability and interior presenceHes basically a stretch four but depending on Cones tactics, the Fil-Australian can play three or five, tooAmos is a Bojan Bogdanovic play-alikeBogdanovic, who plays for the New York Knicks, was the 2016 Olympicsleading scorer with a 25.3 clip. Although born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bogdanovic plays for CroatiaEdu hasnt seen action for Gilas under Cone and is still recovering from knee surgery. His last game in the Japanese B-League was on Nov. 12Edus team Toyama has 10 games left in its regular season schedule and is last in the 24-team D1 league with a 4-44 record.

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TIM CONE

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