Gilas cagers skipping Asiad opening to train
CRAMMING to get a retooled lineup in fighting form, Gilas Pilipinas has asked the Philippine Olympic Committee to be excused from attending the opening ceremony of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, next week.
With Marcus Douthit making his international comeback after the disqualification of Andray Blatche, the Gilas coaching staff has just over a week to strategize before basketball competitions get going.
The Philippines will be shooting for the basketball gold it last won in 1962, and the Filipinos will do it with Douthit coming in late and with several mainstays nursing injuries.
Jason Castro sat out the last World Cup game against Senegal because of a bruised knee and has been stricken off the Asiad lineup in favor of Jimmy Alapag. Marc Pingris is nursing a sore right Achilles tendon and Paul Lee complains of pain on the heel and the underside of both feet.
Instead of leaving on Sept. 17 to attend the Asiad opening on the 19th, Gilas will now fly to Incheon on Sept. 20.
As a result, Japeth Aguilar will pass up the chance to be the country’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony, an honor that every national athlete dreams of. Aguilar reportedly begged off through the Gilas management.
Douthit, who was accommodated by the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee as Blatche’s replacement on Thursday night, will be coming in from Rhode Island in the United States today just in time for the team’s first practice session.
Jared Dillinger, who was inserted into the Asiad lineup after Alapag announced before the World Cup that he was retiring from the national team, will be the new face on the roster.
“It is what it is,” coach Chot Reyes said after learning of the Blatche disqualification. “All we can do is keep on fighting.”
Reyes also said that Castro can still be inserted into the lineup until the eve of the managers’ meeting on Sept. 19.
The Philippines was allowed to make one more last-minute change by the IAGOC during Thursday’s final delegation registration meeting.
Your weekly sports analysis
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.