Go ready to step up in absence of Aguilar, Standhardinger
MANILA, Philippines — Isaac Go never shied away from challenges during his time with Ateneo de Manila University.
He’s looking to do the same thing for Gilas Pilipinas, which is now eyeing to plug a gaping hole in the middle after Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar pulled out from the pool.
“Given the opportunity, I’ll just take advantage of it,” he told reporters.
Standhardinger and Aguilar, both old reliables for the program, have begged off from lending their services for the upcoming first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers due to health and personal concerns, respectively.
“Of course, we’re missing two great players,” the 6-foot-8 Go said of his seniors. “Both have served the national team for a long time and have been successful in doing so.”
“It’s a major loss,” he added. “But knowing the basketball minds of coach Mark (Dickel) and Tab (Baldwin), they’ll make it work and find a way.”
Go, an integral part of Ateneo’s last three titles in the UAAP, will be one of the five remaining big men in the pool tasked to bring size against Thailand and Indonesia later this month.
The other four are pros Poy Erram, Troy Rosario, La Salle standout Justine Baltazar, and 38-year-old 2014 World Cup veteran Marc Pingris.
Apart from Aguilar and Standhardinger, forward Mac Belo had also withdrawn himself to prioritize the rehabilitation of his knee.
Go, a former member of the youth team, is a likely inclusion in the final lineup considering his familiarity with Baldwin’s tactics.
On top of that, Go has a wealth of experience—most notably in the PBA’s D-League, where he was once a Most Valuable Player, and his recent stint with Mighty Sports where he provided relief to the likes of Andray Blatche and Renaldo Balkman.
“I miss it. There’s nothing like representing your country,” said Go.
“This is a good group of guys. We are not lacking in skilled players,” he said. “I hope that I make it. If not, I fully trust decision.”