JUNE Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, and Kevin Alas mark their return to Gilas Pilipinas as part of the 16-man lineup for the 31st Southeast Asian Games men's basketball competition in Hanoi.
Fajardo, Aguilar, Wright, and Alas will be joined by Japan B.League imports Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos as well as fellow PBA players Robert Bolick, Kib Montalbo, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Poy Erram, Mo Tautuaa, and Isaac Go.
Gilas pool members Will Navarro, LeBron Lopez, and Caelum Harris complete the pool put together by head coach Chot Reyes in consultation with the PBA board.
Fajardo, Aguilar, and Wright were part of the all-pro Gilas side that won SEA Games gold at home in 2019 while Alas is making a comeback in the biennial meet after being part of the 2013 national squad in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.
The line-up was completed in time for the Saturday deadline for the submission of delegation members by name to the Vietnam SEA Games Organizing Committee (Viesgoc).
All 16 are bound for Hanoi
“We plan to bring all 16 to Vietnam if it is possible,” said Reyes, who announced the pool following the TNT-NorthPort game at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“For now, we can’t name a Final 12 roster but that is the pool. We had long meetings with the coaching staff and we felt that this is the line-up that will give us the best chance of winning the gold in the SEA Games.”
Bolick, Montalbo, Rosario, and Erram are returnees from the Gilas team that took part in the February window of the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asia qualifiers at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tautuaa, meanwhile, will be gunning for a second SEA Games gold medal, having won his first as part of the 3x3 team that made its debut in 2019. He is the lone naturalized player for Gilas after organizers limited teams to one each.
Go also returns to national team program since dropping out of the Gilas pool of former national coach Tab Baldwin to play for Terrafirma in the PBA.
Navarro, Lopez, and Harris, a 6-foot-7 teen based in Nashville, has also been given a chance to vie for a slot in the SEA Games.
Reyes thanked the PBA for lending players for the SEA Games campaign with college players from the UAAP and the NCAA unavailable, including naturalized player Ange Kouame of Ateneo.
“We are very happy, we are very fortunate, we are very thankful to commissioner Willie and the PBA board for making available the following players,” said Reyes.
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