TNT, Alaska players, Blatche to reinforce Gilas cadets in Asian Games mission
Andray Blatche is set to join a mixture of pro players and college standouts in the Gilas side bound for the Asian Games in Indonesia in July. Jerome Ascano

THE core of PBA team TNT KaTropa, an Alaska player, members of the Gilas Pilipinas cadets, and naturalized player Andray Blatche will compose the Philippine team to the 2018 Asian Games men’s basketball competition.

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas admitted a conflict in the schedule made it hard for the pro league to loan a full complement of players for the Asiad mission.

Despite the circumstances, he said the league wanted the team to be competitive, hence the decision to release members of the TNT team and one Alaska player to the Asiad-bound side.

The set-up is similar to the one taken in the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima when the core of San Miguel Beer, then the All-Filipino Cup champion, was tapped to fly the flag for the Philippines, with a few reinforcements.

The Indonesia Asiad is set from August 18 to September 2, which runs smack into the ongoing PBA season.

“Everybody in the board wants to participate in the Asian Games but they also want to be competitive and they also want to meet and find a solution to the challenges,” said Vargas.

Terrence Romeo, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Jayson Castro are the Gilas regulars among TNT players while Calvin Abueva is Alaska's regular representative in the national pool. 

Vargas said the PBA taking another break for the Asiad was out of the question since the league will have to pause its schedule for one-and-a-half months for the fourth window of the Fiba Basketball World Cup qualifying which will be held two weeks after the Asiad.

Vargas said the board considered a number of suggestions, from sending an all-cadet team or a PBA selection.

“We decided to bring in a core team from TNT and then add newer cadets, add an Alaska player, and get Andray Blatche,” said Vargas.

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Vargas said the Asiad roster will still be finalized by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and Chot Reyes, who will again call the shots.

SBP president Al Panlilio said he will coordinate with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) for the changes in names since a few members of TNT were not part of the initial list submitted by the national Olympic body to the Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (IAGOC).

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