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Surprises mark selection of Gilas pool members
June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo.
MANILA, Philippines – Phoenix Petroleum center Norbert Torres and Mahindra guard LA Revilla were among the surprise names making the 24-man Gilas Pilipinas training pool officially announced by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Sunday night.
Meralco rookie gunner Jonathan Grey, Blackwater sophomore forward Art dela Cruz, NLEX's Bradwyn Guinto and Rain or Shine's Raymond Almazan were the other new Gilas recruits included in the pool that will be built up by coach Chot Reyes for the coming SEABA Championship and the succeeding FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut in August.
As expected, June Mar Fajardo, Jason Castro, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar and Paul Lee banner the roster that also includes PBA rookies Mac Belo, Matthew Wright, Ed Daquiaog, Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, Carl Bryan Cruz, Kevin Ferrer, Russel Escoto, Jio Jalalon, Arnold Van Opstal, Von Pessumal and Al Gotladera.
SBP president Al Panlilio announced the names of the 24 players before the Ginebra-Phoenix Fuel game at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
Present in the event were the returning Gilas coach, SBP chairman Sen. Sonny Angara, vice chairman Robbie Puno, executive director Sonny Barrios, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa and some members of the PBA board of governors.
The Gilas coach, architect of the Philippines' return stint in the FIBA World Cup in 2014 in Spain, described his new pool as "a combination of everything we need to run the system that we want to run."
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"It's young, balanced. I like its combination of youth and veteran smarts. It's the tallest that we could assemble at this time," said Reyes.
It will become a 25-man pool on the addition of naturalized player Andray Blatche or a new prospect that the Gilas coaching staff may find.
Reyes' coaching staff includes his son Josh, Jong Uichico and Jimmy Alapag. Josh is now in Toronto, scouting potential recruits in the ongoing NBA D-League Showcase while Uichico is to leave the country Monday also for an scouting trip.
"Blatche remains committed with us. His issue is his schedule in China. We don't know yet if he's available for SEABA and in the FIBA Asia Cup," said Reyes.
Reyes said he made the decision on the 24-man pool after a long consultation with his staff, taking into consideration the World Championship in 2019.
"You would notice the oldest player is 30 (Castro) because we're preparing for the 2019 World Championship which is three years from now," Reyes pointed out.
Reyes said they have yet to draw the training program as the SEABA Championship schedule is yet to be announced.
Under the agreement between the PBA and the SBP, players from the original Gilas list will be released by their PBA mother teams two months before the tourney. The 12 additional players will be made available to the pool a month before the competition.