'Loyal soldier' Gary David doesn't mind diminished role as top Gilas cheerleader
Gary David and Troy Rosario are still fixtures in Gilas practices and games. Gerry Ramos

CHANGSHA, China – Gary David doesn’t mind his diminished with Gilas Pilipinas, from being part of the 12-man roster in 2013 to being a reserve in coach Tab Baldwin’s lineup.

He is after all, a true, loyal soldier.

“It’s part of basketball ‘yung ganyang sitwasyon,” said the Meralco gunner. “Ito ‘yung role ko ngayon, taga suporta pero kasama pa rin nila.”

David was a central part of the Gilas team that finished runner-up during the Manila edition of the Fiba Asia two years ago in a campaign that saw him emerge as the hero in the team’s quarterfinal win over Kazakshtan.

But he was relegated to a reserve role this year by the 57-year-old Baldwin along with rookie big man Troy Rosario, whose faces can’t be missed behind the Gilas bench every game.

The 37-year-old David said he’s already accepted his fate even before the team travelled to this Southern Chinese province for the Olympic qualifying tournament.

“So set na yung mindset ko na anuman ang maitutulong ko sa national team, para sa mga players, gagawin ko. Kaya andito pa rin ako para sumuporta,” he said.

[See If it fails to win Fiba Asia title, here's what awaits Gilas in Rio Olympic qualifiers]

As reserve, he still gets to join the team in training and in other activities while keeping his status as Gilas’ resident funny man, whose practical jokes remain the staple at the end of every Gilas practice games.

He also has starting point guard Jayson Castro for roommate.

The only frustrating part of it is not being able to help his Gilas teammates inside the playing court.

 “Sa laro lang nasa likod kami ng bench. Nakaka-ilang lang kasi hindi ka nakakatulong sa laro,” he said.

But that’s the way the cookie crumbles, according to him.

“Ganun talaga, part ng basketball yan,” added David.

[See Grateful Pangilinan rewards Gilas]

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos