FOLLOWING its successful campaign in the world championship qualifier, Gilas Pilipinas chose to beg off from competing in the 24th Fiba-Asia Champions Cup set in Amman, Jordan next week.
The unavailability of players for the September 13-21 tournament was the reason team manager Butch Antonio cited for the non-participation of the country in the meet last staged in Manila in 2011.
Antonio said until this week, only five players are on stand-by for Gilas led by cadet players Garvo Lanete, Ronald Pascual, Jake Pascual, Kevin Alas, and possibly Greg Slaughter.
Former UAAP Most Valuable Player RR Garcia, who is also part of the cadet pool, is currently playing for
Far Eastern University.
“Gilas is not going for sure (to the Fiba Asia Champions Cup). We can’t form a team kasi walang players. Di mo naman sila mabulabog,” Antonio said, referring to several college players whom Gilas coach Chot Reyes has invited to join the cadet team.
Reyes himself is currently on a personal vacation in Europe.
The country's failure to participate in the tournament it won four times in the past comes on the heels of Gilas Pilipinas' runner-up finish in the recent 27th Fiba-Asia Championship in Manila that clinched for the national team a berth to the 2014 Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
Reyes recently tweeted in his account @coachot several names of possible players to be included in the cadet pool, although most of them are playing for their respective mother schools in the ongoing UAAP and NCAA basketball seasons.
Among those invited by Reyes to join the cadet team are FEU stalwart Terrence Romeo, Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena and rookie Fil-Am Chris Newsome, La Salle big man Arnold Van Opstal, NCAA MVP candidate Raymund Almazan from Letran and University of Santo Tomas big man Kevin Ferrer.
(For full story, see Ravena, Romeo, Parks, Almazan lead new batch of Gilas cadet invitees)
Antonio said originally, the Philippines was supposed to be represented by Asean Basketball League champion San Miguel Beer as part of its incentive for winning the title.
But with the Beermen already breaking their championship core following the transfer of several key players back to the PBA led by ABL Most Valuable Player Asi Taulava, the team eventually begged off from playing in the week-long meet.
Nine teams have already confirmed to join the Fiba Asia Champions Cup led by Foolad Mahan of Iran, Qatar’s Al Rayyan, Iraqi club team Duhok, Brunei’s Al Hala, Syria’s Al Jaish, Mongolia’s SBL Khas Broncos, BC Capchagay of Kazakhstan, Applied Science University of Jordan, and ONGC of India.
The Philippines is a four-time tournament champion after winning the titles in 1984, 1988, 1995 and 1996.
Smart Gilas of coach Rajko Toroman made the semis and finished fourth the last time the country saw action in the tournament that was held here two years ago.