Gilas feels SEA Games pinch

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes doesn’t have a choice but to make do with what’s on the table. Photo by Rio Deluvio

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes will have no choice but to select the members of the team for the Southeast Asian Games from a list submitted earlier to Phnom Penh organizers.

“We can’t (add more players outside of the pool),” Reyes said in a Viber message when asked about the possibility of adding new players outside of the pool who played in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“The long list was already submitted to the SEA Games,” he added.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Barrios added that putting up a list early wasn’t easy, but the basketball federation had to comply with the requirements of the local organizing committee of the SEA Games.

“On the side of the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) and the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee), they understand that names composing our basketball team cannot be predicted right away. We just complied with the requirements asked by the SEA Games organizers,” said Barrios in a telephone conversation.

“Unlike other sports like gymnastics headed by Cynthia Carreon and weightlifting headed by Monico Puentevella, they can easily name their athletes. We know the number of athletes needed, but as to who are the players, that we still have to identify. That’s how difficult naming the players composing our men’s basketball team.”

Player availability and short preparation period have always been a concern for the national men’s basketball squad owing to the tight schedule of the Philippine Basketball Association, whose players reinforce the national team for overseas events like the lowly SEA Games and the Asian Games.

The PBA normally runs from nine to ten months a year and the players’ commitment to their respective mother teams has prevented the country from sending its best to several overseas meets countless times.

Through the years, the PBA has been trying its best to help the SBP by shortening conferences and even reducing the number of conferences to allow the top players to have longer training stints.

Also plaguing Gilas the past few months is the string of injuries that have struck some of the mainstays.

Among those players who have been sidelined by injuries include Japeth Aguilar, Roger Pogoy, and Poy Erram.

June Mar Fajardo, the six-time PBA Most Valuable Player, joined Aguilar and the rest on the growing list of injured players after the San Miguel standout hurt himself during the East Asia Super League Champions Week recently in Japan.

Fajardo will be out five to six weeks, according to team manager Gee Abanilla.

Reyes said in a previous interview that players from the Japan B. League – Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, Jordan Heading and  brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and 7-foot-2 center Kai Sotto – will not play in the SEA Games.

The B. League won’t end until the second week of May.

The SEA Games will take place in the Cambodian capital from 5 to 17 May.

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