THE present met the future on Monday night, but some of the biggest players were unfortunately not around as Gilas Pilipinas gathered for its first practice at the Meralco gym.
National coach Chot Reyes rued the absence of 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo and 7-foot Kai Sotto as well as the rest of the current and future pool members who are either sick or playing outside the country.
But he was still pleased with the turnout.
“It’s unfortunate that Kai and June Mar are not here, but they really both are (sick),” Reyes said. “In fact, si Kai di nakapasok sa eskwela kasi may sakit talaga sya, same thing with June Mar.”
“Other than that, I was very pleased with the kind of engagement that I saw,” he added.
Kobe Paras, AJ Edu, Remy Martin, Dwight Ramos, and Troy Rike were the standouts in the 23-man pool for the 2023 World Cup who have school commitments overseas, while local college plaeyrs Matt Nieto, Abu Tratter, Carl Tamayo, and Ken Tuffin were also absent.
Isaac Go, who stands 6-8, 6-foot-9 Kemark Carino, and 6-foot-6 Will Gozum – the only high school player present – were the young big men in the pool present in practice, while the playmakers and wingmen were Thirdy Ravena, Paul Desiderio, J-Jay Alejandro, Javee Mocon, Robert Bolick, Juan Gomez De Liano, CJ Perez, Arvin Tolentino, Jeo Ambohot, and Joshua Sinclair.
The young batch had to hit the ground running as far as ingesting Reyes’ dribble-drive system and keeping up with their veteran counterparts.
“We purposely are making them do things quickly because we’re trying to see who can pick up very quickly,” Reyes said. “Kaya kagaya nun, konting runs, konting sets lang, sinabak na agad namin sila sa ginagawa ng vets.
“Like I told them, that’s my expectation of them cause they’re the best of the best,” he added. “They’re the cream of the crop so ang pag-pick up sa kanila dapat very quick. That’s why we’re trying to do these things.”