Fajardo, Thompson, Aguilar shoo-ins for Brownlee-led Gilas in Asian Games
MANILA, Philippines–June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, and Scottie Thompson are locks for the Justin Brownlee-led Gilas Pilipinas squad that will see action in the 19th Asian Games later this month.
Without naming the final roster, interim head coach Tim Cone identified that the four Philippine Basketball Association standouts are shoo-ins for a pro-laden squad that will see action in the Hangzhou, China showcase.
“Those are the usual suspects. Beyond that, I’m not sure if we’re ready to release all the names yet because we just don’t have it all together,” Cone said.
“We just want to release the whole 12. Basically whoever’s left from the World Cup is going to be a part of the team that will begin practicing on Monday.”
That means Roger Pogoy, Calvin Oftana, and Chris Newsome are in consideration. Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, one of the names in the Entry By Name list submitted to the Asian Games organizers has been ruled out as he continues to recuperate from a foot injury.
Jamie Malonzo, who hurt his back during Gilas’ World Cup classification game against South Sudan, is expected to beg off from the regional meet that gets going on September 23.
Also being considered for the roster was TNT’s Filipino-American top gun Mikey Williams, but he has yet to return the calls of the basketball leaders from the MVP group bloc.
Ange Kouame, the program’s other naturalized player aside from Brownlee, is also projected to become a part of the squad. But that remains up in the air with a European club offer entering the picture.
“He’s definitely part of the Final 12 if he’s available. He has something going on in Europe, and I’m not clear on the whole situation that’s more (former team manager) Butch Antonio and Alfrancis (Chua) that’s working on that, talking,” Cone said.
The Asiad’s only eligibility requirement is for a player to have a passport of the country he intends to represent, which means Gilas—and other teams—can field multiple naturalized players.
Players plying their trade overseas are also off the table as they will be neck-deep in fulfilling their obligations to their pro clubs. The same with varsity standouts who will be preparing for the looming collegiate season.
Cone said that Gilas Pilipinas will be training at Inspire Academy in Laguna from Sept. 13 to 18. Other practice sessions, meanwhile, will be held at Philsports Arena in Pasig City, taking up the offer of the Philippine Sports Commission’s Dickie Bachmann.
Gilas Pilipinas opens their bid against Bahrain on Sept. 26 at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium. The Nationals are also grouped with Jordan and Thailand.