Reyes-led Gilas cadets parade young, untested core for Fiba Asia Cup | Inquirer Sports
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Reyes-led Gilas cadets parade young, untested core for Fiba Asia Cup

06:35 PM August 11, 2016
Gilas Pilipinas cadets.  Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Gilas Pilipinas cadets. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Limited in time and preparation, Gilas coach Tab Baldwin has given the responsibility to lead Gilas in the 2016 Fiba Asia Challenge Cup to deputy Josh Reyes.

“He’s a hard worker and he’s very passionate about the task. He’s charged with this responsibility,” he said. “From what I’ve observed, he’s working at it as diligently as he can.”

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The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) released the 24-man pool on Wednesday after submitting it on Tuesday night.

The team is bannered by familiar names in the amateur ranks, with members of the Gilas cadets and the gold-medal winning team from the 2016 Seaba Stankovic Cup dominating the field.

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Ray Parks and Kiefer Ravena headline the cast, which also includes Mac Belo, Kevin Ferrer, Jiovani Jalalon, Mike Tolomia, Roger Pogoy, Russel Escoto, and Von Pessumal.

Also included in the lineup are TNT’s Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Blackwater’s Almond Vosotros and JP Erram.

PBA D-League standouts were also included with Phoenix’s Ed Daquioag and Yutien Andrada, Racal’s Jonathan Grey and Chris Javier, Cafe France’s Carl Bryan Cruz and Mon Abundo, and Tanduay’s Fonso Gotladera all part of the pool.

Fil-Canadian guard Matthew Wright also did not go unnoticed after his stint with Mighty Sports-Philippines in the 2016 Jones Cup, as the 2016 Asean Basketball League Heritage MVP was added in the roster.

Rounding out the pool are former La Salle big man Arnold Van Opstal, Lyceum forward CJ Perez, FEU transferee Arvin Tolentino, and San Beda upstart Kemark Carino.

Man in charge

From this 24-man pool, Reyes will select his 12-man roster which will compete in the Fiba Asia Challenge
Cup in Iran from September 9 to 18.

“Coach Josh is running the ship right now. He’s got his hand on the tiller and he’ll establish the timeline. I know he’s brought down many players and he’s looking at them right now, trying to formulate the best team, not the best players. That’s the process he’s going through,” he said. “I’m there right now just supporting their efforts. All of us are challenged time-wise with all the varied responsibilities that we have.”

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Baldwin admits that inexperience from this group of guys will definitely be a problem as the team will brace against the top-caliber Asian squads.

“We recognize that this is going to be a young and untested group of players at the international level. There are exactly zero players who have senior international experience and we’ll be going into a tournament that will have a very high caliber of Asian teams. These teams will be the best or near-best. These countries are not gonna send second-tier teams to this tournament,” he said.

Baldwin, though, believes that chemistry could trump these issues, and he’s hoping that Reyes can draw out that cohesiveness from this group of players.

“We’ve got a lot of young, enthusiastic players that have come in. Blending that into a team is of the highest urgency right now because the tournament is a month away,” he said. “Our boys have to work fast, they have to work hard, and they have to focus on becoming a team very quickly.”

If there are players who step up to the plate, Baldwin thinks that may just earn them a shot on making it to the shortlist for the Gilas 5.0 player pool.

“I think it will mean a lot to the players. It will be the first blooding for them at the international level,” he said.

“It will be an eye-opener for many of those players. For some, it will be an acid test if they are capable of playing at that level or not. Some we know are, and it’s going to take time to groom them into international players.”

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