A MIX of the old and new comprise the 12 incoming members that will complete Chot Reyes' 24-man training pool of Gilas Pilipinas 5.0.
As expected, big man June Mar Fajardo leads the 12 PBA players who will be merged with the 12 Gilas cadets and form the core of the national team out on a mission to earn a return to the Fiba World Cup come 2019 in China.
Sources from around the league told SPIN.ph the three-time MVP from San Miguel is among those high on the list of Reyes under the agreement between the pro league and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) on the 12 PBA teams lending one player each to the national pool outside of the initial 12 Gilas rookies.
Other shoo-ins include Calvin Abueva of Alaska, Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort, and Barangay Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar, as well as TnT Katropa’s Jayson Castro, who, sources said, is set to come out of national team retirement after a meeting with SBP officials earlier this week.
The list of the 12 players will be announced on Sunday in between games of the PBA Philippine Cup at the PhilSports Arena. Alaska takes on Mahindra in the 4:30 p.m. curtain raiser, while Barangay Ginebra tackles Phoenix in the main game at 6:45 p.m.
Expected to grace the ceremony are SBP president Al Panlilio, chairman Senator Sonny Angara, vice chairman Robbie Puno, executive director Sonny Barrios, Commissioner Chito Narvasa and members of the PBA board.
A couple of teams in Rain or Shine and Star, however, have previously loaned two or more players to the Gilas pool in the past, which prompted Reyes to give a second look at either Gabe Norwood and Raymond Almazan for the Elasto Painters and Marc Pingris or Paul Lee for the Hotshots.
But with the program geared towards Gilas' qualification for the 2020 Olympics, Reyes will likely put a premium on youth and go for Lee and Almazan.
Another source bared that if Abueva is not available, Gilas has requested that JVee Casio be made part of the pool.
JC Intal is reportedly also bound for a Gilas comeback, although Reyes is fascinated as well with sophomore big man Norbert Torres, a hefty power forward who can shoot the ball from the outside.
Other likely Gilas ‘newbies’ include Bradwyn Guinto of NLEX, Blackwater’s Art dela Cruz, Mahindra’s Alex Mallari, and Meralco rookie Jonathan Grey, who earlier failed to crack the Gilas cadet side.
The 12 of them will join the earlier 12 players who were made part of the Gilas cadet, namely Mac Belo, Kevin Ferrer, Roger Pogoy, Carl Bryan Cruz, Von Pessumal, Russel Escoto, Ed Daquioag, Fonzo Gotladera, Matthew Wright, Mike Tolomia, Arnold Van Opstal, and Jio Jalalon.