Saturday, May 18, 2024

Woes continue to hound Gilas

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ALREADY hampered by inadequate preparation, Gilas Pilipinas suddenly finds itself hindered by player eligibility issues just barely seven days before the squad starts its Asian Games bid.

Reports say Calvin Abueva and Jason Perkins can’t join Gilas to Hangzhou, China, because they allegedly lacked citizenship documents.  Their fathers are Americans.

Add to the woes of Gilas is, more than half of the squad that just played in the recently-ended Fiba World Cup in Manila are out as they need to fulfill their contract obligations overseas.

Brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena are back in the Japanese B. League, together with Ray Parks, Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto and AJ Edu.  That means they are out of the Asiad campaign.

Kiefer, Ramos, Sotto and Edu practically formed the nucleus of the Gilas team in the Worlds together with Jordan Clarkson, June Mar Fajardo, Rhenz Abando, RR Pogoy and Scottie Thompson, among others.

Clarkson is back in Utah where he is a Jazz mainstay, while Abando has also commitments to play in Korea.

But while Justin Brownlee is more than an apt replacement for Clarkson, Ange Kouame and Mo Tautuaa need to redouble their efforts when they take chores previously handled by Sotto and Edu.

Terence Romeo will be replacing Kiefer at the point and, hopefully, the San Miguel Beer regular is fully recovered from injuries that saw him spend months on the bench.

Chris Newsome, the last one removed from the Worlds, will be back to take on Ramos’s crucial role as a dead shot wingman.

With jelling as another major headache—eight newcomers added to the four holdovers (Fajardo, Pogoy, Thompson and Japeth Aguilar)—I can only wish Tim Cone good luck for his herculean task of medal-hunting in China.

If it’s any consolation, Gilas gained a huge ego-booster after it routed China in the Worlds—a win that also shoved the country to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July 2024 after a 1-4, win-loss Fiba Cup windup in Manila.

Our medal quest in the Asian Games begins on September 26 when Gilas battles Bahrain, followed by Thailand and Jordan.

The last time Cone coached our team, he snatched a bronze with a win over Kazakhstan for third place in the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.

I was right there covering the epic battle.  But that’s another story.

THAT’S IT Here’s a glass to Olympic chief Bambol Tolentino for adding P1 million pesos as incentive to any Filipino gold medalist in the Asian Games blasting off on September 23 in Hangzhou, China—making it a total of P3 million.  I’m sure this will inspire our 396 athletes competing in 40 sports to work harder and, hopefully, surpass the four gold medals we won in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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