TAIPEI - A Gilas Pilipinas side building up for the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship faces another test of character when it takes on a US Selection on Saturday in the Jones Cup without a single legitimate point guard.
National coach Tab Baldwin confirmed the news at the end of morning practice, which starting guard Jayson Castro sat out after playing heavy minutes and scoring a team-high 22 points in a thrilling 92-88 overnight victory over New Zealand the night before.
Terrence Romeo dressed for practice but didn't join the drills since there is still pain and a lot of swelling in a Grade 1 sprain on his left ankle which he hurt in the loss to Iran on Thursday.
On the other hand, comebacking Jimmy Alapag came home on Friday for a family matter. But even if he was around, the longtime Gilas leader has yet to recover from a recurring quads injury.
Baldwin, however, is unperturbed, saying the absence of the three is just another of the unforeseen setbacks dealt teams in international play which Gilas has to learn to deal with every now and then.
"That's what these tournaments are for, these throw so many scenarios at you (because) you play so many games over so many days that you're bound to run into something that you don't like to happen," Baldwin said, hours before the 5 p.m. game against a US side led by former GlobalPort import Calvin Warner.
In their absence, Matt Ganuelas Rosser and Gabe Norwood are expected to share in the playmaking duties with - hold your breath - Calvin Abueva possibly sharing in the duties.
"Why not?" said Gilas assistant coach Josh Reyes.
Abueva has not been handed that responsibility in the PBA and with the national team but has played the role in college, where he once led the NCAA in scoring, rebounds and assists as a San Sebastian Stags star.
Baldwin also in not too worried about the three guards sitting out, expecting Romeo to recover in no time. As for Castro, the Talk 'N Text star from Betis, Guagua, Pampanga simply needs time to recover.
"Terrence's ankle is not 100 percent. He'll be fine, there's nothing serious, but there's no point pushing that," said Baldwin. "Jayson just needs a break. He played 31 minutes yesterday (against New Zealand) on the back of 28 minutes and more minutes before that. There's no point taking a risk.
Alapag, Baldwin said, has a "pre-planned trip to home for a family matter," and will be back on Sunday.