Carl Bryan Cruz, Jonathan Grey not raising expectations in battle for spots to Gilas Final 12
Jonathan Grey says all he can do is work hard in Gilas practice. Dante Peralta

CARL Bryan Cruz and Jonathan Grey both know that making the final lineup out of the 24-man pool for the Fiba Asia Challenge Cup next month in Iran is not a sure thing even with their standout performances in the amateur ranks.    

Cruz and Grey, both MVP contenders in the ongoing PBA D-League Foundation Cup, have a tough task ahead of them in competing for a spot in the Gilas roster against the likes of Mike Tolomia, Kevin Ferrer, and Mac Belo, along with other highly-touted names such as Kiefer Ravena, and pros Matt Ganuelas Rosser and Matthew Wright.

"Feeling ko mahirap din makapasok," said Cruz. "Malalim din yung lineup kahit undersized yung iba."

Both players still hope to be included in the Final 12, but are realistic about their chances and said their primary focus remain on leading their respective D-League teams to the finals of the season-ending conference. 

[See Parks unavailable for Gilas team to Fiba Asia Challenge Cup, says agent]

Cruz, a former FEU standout, is hell-bent on steering Cafe France back to the finals but to do that, his team needs to overcome a tough Phoenix side in the semifinals.

"For now, focus ako sa D-League. Whatever happens, kung matanggap ako o hindi, go na ako sa PBA Draft," he said.

Likewise, Grey hopes to help Racal survive Tanduay in the other semifinal pairing to reach the finals for the first time in team history. 

"Focus ko sa D-League at practice sa Gilas. I just work hard," the former Benilde star said. 

"Very grateful ako na na-invite ako. Sa akin, practice hard lang ako. Kung mapasama ako sa Iran, mas okay. Kung hindi, okay lang din. Desisyon naman ng coaches yun eh," Grey added.

[See Is teen Carino ready to make transition from Batang Gilas to senior team?]

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros