Half of Gilas World Cup squad likely out for Asian Games gold quest | Inquirer Sports

Half of Gilas World Cup squad likely out for Asian Games gold quest

Gilas Pilipinas vs Dominican Republic Fiba World Cup

Gilas Pilipinas huddles during a game against the Dominican Republic in the Fiba World Cup. -MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Gilas Pilipinas ignited revelries all over the country when it closed out what had been a turbulent Fiba World Cup campaign with a 96-75 victory over great Asian rival China on Saturday night.

It was supposed to give this cage-crazed nation something to smile about—and it did—while also giving Filipino fans what to expect, more or less, when the Philippines campaigns in the Asian Games slated later this month in Hangzhou, China.

There was a lot of hope, of course, that the 21-point win gave.


But the revelries died down just as quick, for reports came in less than an hour after the team that manhandled the Chinese before more than 11,000 screaming souls at Smart Araneta Coliseum will most probably be just a shell of the side that will try to reclaim Asian Games (Asiad) glory in less than three weeks.

The big win over China also gave Gilas the literal last ticket to vie in the Qualifying Tournament for the Paris 2024 Olympics. And the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will have to deal with that matter next year.

Dwight Ramos emphatically said that he’s out, Jordan Clarkson will certainly be rejoining Utah at the start of NBA camp, while AJ Edu, Kai Sotto, Kiefer Ravena and Rhenz Abando are likely to head back to their mother teams overseas to fulfill contractual obligations.

Though dealing with a lot of hate and continuing to do his job as best he could, coach Chot Reyes also announced that he was “stepping aside” to give the SBP the freedom to choose the next man in charge.


And if anyone is thinking that it should be Tim Cone, forget it.

“If coach Chot goes, I go,” Cone said in a television interview in the middle of the World Cup campaign and at the height of public vitriol against Reyes.


“Some assistant coaches join a team with the hope of eventually becoming the head coach, but that’s not me. I’m here to serve at coach Chot’s pleasure. I’m only here to support him because I believe in him,” he said.

Even two of the last four cuts that Reyes made two days before the World Cup—Ray Parks Jr. and Thirdy Ravena—are already in Japan.

PBA to the rescue

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

And that leaves the program, potentially, with an all-PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) team for the Asiad, where China, which also stands to lose Kyle Anderson, is the defending champion and can parade a team that could still be just as formidable. The Chinese also know how to maximize their homecourt edge.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, meanwhile, readily reaffirmed the league’s readiness in sending players to the Asiad once things are sorted out in a meeting with SBP president Al Panlilio.

“We’re committed to help Gilas for the Asian Games,” Marcial told the Inquirer in Filipino on Sunday. “We just have to figure out what the system is, who the players are and who the coach will be.

“That’s what we want to know.”

But with the PBA opening in mid-October, a lot of questions are left hanging at the moment.

Abando, a fan favorite who was big in the victory over Team Dragon, said that he had worn out a granted leave of absence from his Korean club Anyang KGC.

“It depends on my team,” he told reporters in Filipino on his way to the dugout when asked if he could be available for the Asiad. “I’ve been on vacation for too long. I was supposed to be back in Korea last July 9, and this has been an extension. So it really depends [on my team].”

Opening month

Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes Fiba World Cup

Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

The B.League is scheduled to get going in the first week of October and the Korean Basketball League is pegged to start at around the same time, and clubs in both leagues—like many others around the world— hold training camps a month before tournament kickoff.

That would mean that Ramos and Abando’s decisions could be seen as the ones that other Gilas pool members will make as they are also playing in the two neighboring leagues.

Ravena, Parks Jr., Carl Tamayo, Matthew Wright, Greg Slaughter, RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel and Dave Ildefonso, who have also donned PH Team jerseys before, are all playing abroad.

That pretty much leaves the national federation with PBA stars along with available collegiate standouts to surround Justin Brownlee when it goes up against an Asian field of 15 other nations.

Back in July 2022, Reyes said he tried to resign from the Gilas head coaching post, just weeks removed from a disastrous SEA (Southeast Asian) Games run in Hanoi, Vietnam.

But the SBP immediately turned him down and Reyes got the title back in Cambodia.

The Asiad is a far different animal, though, as outside of Team Dragon, another old tormentor in South Korea and rising power Lebanon will be gunning for the gold.

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And the SBP has less than three weeks to figure out the composition of the team that could get the job done out there.

TAGS: Gilas Pilipinas, Sports

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