EVEN if he wants to, Kobe Paras can't play for Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 in the Fiba Asia Challenge Cup.
This was confirmed on Thursday by Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, just hours after the 18-year-old prodigy posted a tweet hinting at his desire to play for the national team in the wake of the pullout of Rayray Parks and Kiefer Ravena from the side bound for the September 9-18 showpiece in Iran.
Antonio, who is also the deputy director for international affairs of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, explained that Paras was not part of the 24-man pool which SBP submitted to Fiba Asia for the Iran showpiece - and therefore cannot be named to the 12-man lineup of Gilas.
"He's not part of the pool kasi," Antonio told SPIN.ph, explaining the intricacies of the Fiba Asia rules on its tournaments.
Antonio nonetheless was pleased with Paras' expressed desire to play for Gilas, saying it bodes well for the future of the national team, especially at this time when the SBP has gone back to the cadets program owing to Fiba's new home-and-away format which runs in conflict with the schedule of the PBA.
For his part, national coach Tab Baldwin declined to comment about the possibility of Paras joining the Fiba-Asia Challenge Cup team, saying emphatically, "I don't react to tweets. Social media isn't always the most trustworthy thing. And I haven't spoken personally to Kobe about this."
The Gilas coach, however, said he looks forward to the day when the Creighton-bound player becomes available for Gilas.
"If it's valid, we see Kobe as a part of Gilas moving forward as we see many of these young players. We look forward to every opportunity that Kobe will be available and might be able to come in to whatever level of Gilas he's had to strengthen our program.
"We welcome the day that Kobe can come in and be part of the Gilas pool but specifically to that tweet, I really have no comment."