Fajardo heads 16-man PH pool
Sixteen players, including three who have reportedly begged off, have been made available by the PBA to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to comprise the Gilas national team pool of head coach Tab Baldwin.
Two-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer, Marc Pingris of Star and LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra made the roster together with Gabe Norwood, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jason Castro, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Kelly Williams, Terrence Romeo, Aldrech Ramos, Gary David, JC Intal, Sonny Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros, Asi Taulava and Calvin Abueva.
Naturalized center Andray Blatche arrived in the country on Sunday night to join the pool as it prepares for the Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha City in China’s Hunan province in September.
The tournament stakes Asia’s lone berth in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Squad’s first practice
The squad was practicing for the first time at press time Monday night at Meralco gym in Pasig.
The list is not final, though, because the SBP and Baldwin are said to be trying to add some more players to the pool in an all-out effort to come up with the country’s most competitive lineup for the Fiba Asia tournament.
One of the players the SBP is still trying to include in the roster is Paul Lee of Rain or Shine.
Rain or Shine, which has been very supportive of the national team program in the past, reportedly declined to lend more than one player to Gilas Pilipinas this time.
Baldwin originally wanted to include Lee, Norwood and Jeff Chan.
Rain or Shine’s owners put their foot down, however, and made Baldwin choose just one player.
Fajardo reportedly begged off from the team after complaining of plantar fasciaitis, a disorder that results in pain in the heel and bottom of each foot; Pingris is in France to bond with his French father; while Tenorio excused himself due to fatigue and poor form.
Hopes trio will reconsider
The SBP and Baldwin included the trio—all players of teams under the San Miguel Corp. umbrella—in the list in hopes that they will reconsider.
“In our desire to form the best national team for the Fiba Asia in September, the PBA is endorsing to SBP [this] initial list of players,” said a text message from the PBA’s media bureau, headed by Willie Marcial.
“Should there be additional names in the next few days, we will immediately inform the SBP.”
Meanwhile, the SBP held a send-off activity Monday for the team that will make the country’s final presentation in a bid to host the 2019 Fiba World Cup.
Manny Pacquiao, the country’s international boxing superstar, and Hollywood star Lou Diamond Philips, whose mother is Filipino, will reportedly join the team headed by tycoon and SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan when it presents its bid in Tokyo this Friday.
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