AJ Edu welcomed the invitation extended to him by coach Yeng Guiao to join the Gilas Pilipinas men’s pool bound for the FIBA World Cup once his stint with the Gilas Pilipinas Youth team to the FIBA U19 world competition is over.
Unfortunately, there’s another pressing matter waiting for the 6-foot-10 University of Toledo stalwart back in the U.S.
“He’ll be attending summer classes na kasi shortly after the FIBA U19 World Cup,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio when he and Gilas team manager Gabby Cui personally introduced Edu to Guiao at the Meralco gym during the men’s national team’s practice.
Guiao mentioned Edu, 7-foot-2 prodigy Kai Sotto, and perhaps other members of the Youth team who will creditably perform in the U19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece as candidates for inclusion in the Gilas Pilipinas pool team that is currently preparing for its own World Cup set in China this August.
The invitation though, doesn’t fit in to the hectic schedule of the 18-year-old Edu, who is set to immediately return to the U.S. following his stint with the U19 squad.
But the Cyprus-born cager, whose mother Josie Litang is a Filipina, stressed playing in the men’s team is among his goals as far as his playing career is concerned.
“That’s the natural progression of the program, you go from the youth to the senior team, and that has been part of my goal in the future of my basketball career, to play for the men’s team one day,” he said.
Edu however, has already been lined up earlier by former national coach Chot Reyes to be part of the 23-man Gilas Pilipinas training pool for the 2023 FIBA World Cup to be hosted by the country.
Guiao mentioned the possibility of adding one or two members of the Youth team to his training pool for the World Cup since the men’s squad won’t be practicing with a complete lineup until the end of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The mid-season tournament is expected to be over by the middle of August or about two weeks before the national team departs for China on August 27.
If ever the two teams that will tangle in the Finals will have players in the Gilas Pilipinas pool, Guiao said most likely they would not be able to join the Filipinos’ tune-up games in Spain.
The training pool will leave for Spain on August 4 and return to the country by August 12.
“So kailangan natin ng additional players to fill the void if ever na may mga hindi makakasama sa tune-up games natin,” explained Guiao. “Sayang naman kung pupunta tayo ng Spain na wala tayong players to complete the team.”