Past and present PBA Most Valuable Players June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel are among those being eyed to lead a bumper crop of talented players for the coming fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, where the Philippines will play against Jordan and Saudi Arabia in away games.
Six-time MVP Fajardo had represented Gilas Pilipinas as early as the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, when the Philippines qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. The 6-foot-10 center had played in the world’s biggest basketball event twice, the latest of which was the 2019 edition in China.
Reigning PBA MVP Thompson, on the other hand, was a member of the gold medal winner Gilas team coached by Tim Cone in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila. The Gin Kings star made his way back to the program when he played in the last window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Also being planned to be included in the coming window this November is two-time PBA scoring champion and World Cup veteran CJ Perez.
The scoring prowess of Pérez, who had just won his first-ever PBA championship with the Beermen, will be much-needed by the Philippine squad when the team plays on home court. The 6-foot-2 former Lyceum stalwart was also a member of the 2019 national 3 x 3 team that also won the gold medal in the biennial meet cage games.
Thompson’s Ginebra teammates – 6-foot-9 athletic forward Japeth Aguilar and dead shot Arvin Tolentino – are also being considered to join, as well as TNT stars Roger Pogoy and Poy Erram.
Aguilar has been a fixture in the national team program. He joined the squad in 2008, when Smart-Gilas was formed, then coached by Rajko Toroman.
Prior to becoming a collegiate star and eventually one of the PBA’s most promising cagers, Tolentino played for the national youth team in the Asian Championships.
Pogoy and Erram had also represented the national team several times before.
These PBA players were shortlisted after Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes reached an agreement with the respective managements of San Miguel Beer, Ginebra and TNT on their availability for the coming FIBA window.
They will be joined by available players from the Japan B. League and several other players from the UAAP and the national training pool.
The SBP is set to announce the other members of the pool once their availability is confirmed.
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