HE was supposed to be one third of a projected triple-tower frontline for Gilas Pilipinas.
But suddenly, Ethan Kirkness' name was nowhere to be found in the 23-man training pool of the national team for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Batang Gilas team manager Andrew Teh said the young, towering Fil-Australian is now back Down Under to study after initially getting scholarship offers from schools in the U.S. and in the country.
The 6-foot-10 Fil-Aussie is definitely a prospect, according to Teh, but has yet to play according to his potential.
“Medyo hilaw pa si Ethan and the family decided to return to Australia to further hone his skills,” said Teh.
Kirkness, who turns 16 on Feb. 23, is being groomed to form a dreaded, young frontcourt frontline for Gilas beginning in 2022 and beyond, alongside 6-foot-11 Kai Sotto, and 6-foot-9 AJ Edu.
Both Edu and Sotto were named by coach Chot Reyes to be part of the young training pool for the FIBA World Cup which the country will host five years from now, Kirkness – a certified Filipino passport holder - was not included.
But Teh said a lot of things can still happen between now and 2023.
“There’s always the possibility,” said the Batang Gilas official about the chances of Kirkness still being added to the pool.
“He could be a late bloomer,” added Teh. “But you can see yung talent. He’s still young and there’s always a better chance for other young players (to make the pool).”
If not in 2023, Teh said Kirkness playing alongside Edu and Sotto remains a likelihood, if not with Batang Gilas, in 2027 or even in 2031 with the Gilas men’s team.
“Bata pa naman ang mga yan,” he added. “Kahit nga 2031 baka nandiyan pa sila.”