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    Rhenz Abando Gilas Pilipinas Fiba Asia Cup
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes is keeping his fingers crossed late replacement Rhenz Abando will be allowed to suit up for the national team in the FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia.

    Abando has been pencilled to take over the spot left by the injured Dwight Ramos, who had to be stricken out in the final 12-man roster due to shin splints.

    The NCAA Rookie-MVP from Letran left for Jakarta together with the rest of the team on Sunday night.

    [See Khobuntin shrugs off Chot tongue-lashing to play key role for TNT]

    But Abando’s inclusion still hangs in the balance until approved by Fiba Asia since the deadline for the submission of the official 12-man lineup had already lapsed.

    “Hindi natin malalaman until the technical meeting kung maipapalit siya (Abando),” said Reyes prior to leaving Manila together with TNT big man Poy Erram on Monday morning.

    “Kasi nga nagpasok na tayo ng 12 (players). Yun ang mahirap kapag may deadline tapos may biglaang nangyayari.”

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      If Abando’s inclusion would be thumbed down, Gilas will have to make do with an 11-man team composed of Thirdy Ravena, RayRay Parks, Carl Tamayo, Will Navarro, LeBron Lopez, SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, Geo Chiu, Kevin Quiambao, Kiefer Ravena, and Erram.

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      Ramos begged off from joining the team as the pain in his shin became unbearable, especially when playing.

      “Wala namang structural damage sa MRI, yun lang talagang pain, hindi niya ma-ensayo, e,” said Reyes of the 6-foot-5 Gilas starter.

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      “Sinubukan niya nung isang araw, hindi talaga kaya. E si Dwight hindi naman ma-inarteng tao yun. Kung masakit talaga, masakit.”

      The Philippines is bracketed in Group D along with India, New Zealand, and Lebanon, which Reyes referred to as a very tough group.

      “Lebanon is playing the best that I’ve seen in recent years, their team is really stacked, and they’re playing high level basketball. It will take our best just to be able to compete with that team,” said the Gilas coach.

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      “We knew how tough New Zealand is, and India, as you saw, is no pushover as well. So we just want to manage everyone’s expectations.

      “We’re going to try our best to get to the Top Eight, but the objective really is to take a look at the players that we have on this team, and look at their continued development, and continue our process of finding out what it’s going to take to make sure that we have the best team for 2023.”

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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