Who’ll replace Romeo?
Chot Reyes makes the final three cuts in his 15-man pool Thursday on the eve of Gilas Pilipinas’ first round clash with Japan in the Fiba Asia World Cup Qualifying series at Komazawa Olympic gym in Tokyo.
Team Philippines has been in the Japanese capital since Tuesday as Reyes and his staff continue to figure out which best 12-man team can compete with the hosts that will be bannered by naturalized player Ira Brown and talented center Joji Takeuchi.
The match against the Japanese is set at 7 p.m. (6 p.m. in Manila), and the Philippines will be playing that game without its leading scorer in the last Fiba Asia Cup, Terrence Romeo.
Romeo did not make the trip because of a nagging leg injury, and Reyes would have to find the right combination that would come up with the 17.8-point average that the 5-foot-10 point guard churned out in Lebanon.
“Not yet, we’re still deciding,” Reyes said in a text message to the Inquirer Wednesday afternoon, one day ahead of the Fiba deadline.
The team managers’ meeting, slated Thursday afternoon, is the final day for both teams to decide as Japan will also trim down a 14-man pool.
Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar and Calvin Abueva will lead Reyes’ frontline against Japan, which is also tall and agile because of Takeuchi and Brown.
Reyes would have to decide on whether or not to include Kevin Alas on the roster since the other guard he has in the pool, Kiefer Ravena, seems to be a shoo-in owing to very impressive showings ever since making the Gilas team in the Jones Cup last July.
Jayson Castro, twice voted as Asia’s best point guard, could slide into the No. 2 spot, which also gives Reyes the option to include Alas in the team as a back-up to Ravena.
After the Friday game, Team PH returns home the following day and will play Chinese-Taipei on Monday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Philippines is shooting for no less than a sweep of its first two games for the momentum heading into a clash with world power Australia in February.
That game will be played Down Under, and so will the return match against the Taiwanese also in February.
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