Tolomia, Cruz, Ferrer get their chance prove worth with Gilas
When coach Chot Reyes announced his 12-man lineup for the 2017 Seaba Championship, he pointed out three names whom he felt were the toughest cuts .
“If I had to choose 15, Kevin Ferrer, Carl Bryan Cruz, and Mike Tolomia would definitely be there,” he said then.
But now, all three will have their chance to shine donning the national team colors as Ferrer, Cruz, and Tolomia were named to the Gilas Pilipinas squad seeing action in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this team and represent our country. We promise that we’ll give our best wherever we play,” said Ferrer.
The lanky UST forward said that his faith never waned, believing when one door closes, another one opens.
“I didn’t lose hope. Coach Chot talked to us and said that he has plans for us. So when there’s an opportunity to play, we’ll play,” said the Ginebra rookie.
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Same is the case with the FEU duo of Tolomia and Cruz, as they look at this break as their chance to show what they have been doing in the Gilas practices.
“It’s time for us to prove that we’re worthy of our spot in that lineup,” said the cat-quick Tolomia.
The bruiser Cruz added: “It means a lot. After all the hard work I put, making this roster makes me more motivated to give my best for the team.”
Competing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from August 19 to 30, Ferrer, together with Ray Parks, are shooting for their third gold medal, which will allow them to tie Rommel Adducul for the second-most haul in men’s basketball.
Tolomia, meanwhile, is playing on his first SEA Games after previously helping the Philippines claim gold in the 2016 SEABA Cup, while Cruz will be making his national team debut in an international competition.
The three acknowledge the obvious disadvantage of trotting out a youthful squad, but the squad will be fighting for pride to extend the Philippines’ dominance in the regional tilt.
“There’s a pressure because we’re champions here. We can’t lose,” said Ferrer. “But although we have a young squad, we’re familiar with each other so adjustment won’t be an issue. We know how to play off one another and we all know how to win.”
Tolomia added: “It’s going to be a tough competition for us because the other countries will be bringing in their best players. Though we know we could learn a lot from them, we also know that we’ll give nothing less but our best.”
“It’s going to be coach Chot’s system which will help us get the wins,” said Cruz. “It doesn’t matter if we’re undersized and they’re bigger, it’s the system where we’ll lean on and we’ll do everything just to fight for our country.”