THE convergence of the present and future stars of Gilas Pilipinas on Monday night was not just an anomaly.
National coach Chot Reyes said they will continue to invite the Gilas cadets in the 23-man pool for the 2023 World Cup to join the current members of the 2019 World Cup qualifiers pool in their weekly training sessions.
“For now, that’s the plan, until we can come up with a more regular, more definite schedule,” Reyes said. “As I’ve said, this is far from fixed. Ang gusto lang namin masimulan, maumpisahan. Done is better than perfect. This is far from a perfect plan, but at least, we got it done, we got it started.”
“Yun ang importante,” he added. “Kung hihintayin natin maging maayos ang lahat, di tayo makakaumpisa. At least naumpisahan na natin and I think it’s important for those kids also to know that we are looking. Like we say, many are called but only few will be chosen.”
Thirteen from the 23-man pool for the 2023 World Cup team attended the session in Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Kemark Carino, Paul Desiderio, J-jay Alejandro, Javee Mocon, Robert Bolick, Juan Gomez De Liano, Will Gozum, CJ Perez, Arvin Tolentino, Jeo Ambohot, and Joshua Sinclair.
Kiefer Ravena, Troy Rosario, Allein Maliksi, Carl Cruz, Roger Pogoy, Mac Belo, Kevin Alas, Jio Jalalon, Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, Matthew Wright, and Gabe Norwood were the current pool members present, prompting Reyes to describe the practice as “perhaps the largest gathering of mutli-generational talent in Philippine hoop history.”
The occasion was so special that Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan came over to watch the entire training session along with SBP president Al Panlilio, chairman and Sen. Sonny Angara, vice-chairman Robby Puno, executive director Sonny Barrios and other officials.
“It's their first time to be called to practice and I thought we should all be here,” Pangilinan said. “Everybody else who's a keen participant of Philippine basketball is practically here, so it's a momentous event in many ways.”
“Just looking at the cream of Philippine basketball, both the mature ones and the younger ones in one court is simply a sight to behold,” he added. “It's a very heartening experience for me and I'd like to think that the future of Philippine basketball is very bright. So I'm quite optimistic about the future.”
And having the current and future crop training together is Reyes’ vision.
“We have to start somewhere. That’s our dream for Philippine basketball for the longest time,” the national coach said.