Gilas back-up Carl Bryan Cruz hopes Abueva and Co. will be given a second chance
Gilas is deep in its preparation for World Cup qualifiers against Australia and Japan. Jerome Ascano

BIG man Carl Bryan Cruz conceded the huge hole back-up players like him will have to fill for Gilas Pilipinas in the likely absence of key players in Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan, and Troy Rosario from the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

Cruz said without the three bigs, the national team is already denied of the ceiling it badly needs in its match-up against a tall Australian side on Feb. 22 in Melbourne.

That’s not to mention too, the impact Abueva and Co. always bring to Gilas.

“Yung tatlo na yun napakalaking contribution sana nun, napakalaking impact nila sa team,” said Cruz as the Filipinos go to their final phase of training for the second window of the home-and-away tournament.

Both Abueva and Almazan were dropped from the national pool for the second window by coach Chot Reyes for failing to attend the team’s first three practices, while Rosario has been ruled out by the Gilas mentor for health reason following the bad fall he suffered during TnT Katropa’s PBA Philippine Cup game against Phoenix last week.

Abueva and Rosario were part of the Gilas roster that played in the first window of the tournament against Japan and Chinese Taipei, while Almazan – like Cruz – was on the reserved list.

Cruz, or CBC as he is fondly called, said it’s now up to him and the rest of the team’s role players to step up and deliver.

Of course, he has to earn his spot first in Gilas’ 12-man roster for the game against the Boomers.

“Ayoko namang mag-kumpiyansa na pag wala sila mayroon na kaagad akong playing time,” said the Alaska sophomore.  “Kailangan mo pa ring earn 'yun sa practice games.”

He added being named as part of the final lineup against the Aussies would be a challenge especially for someone like him who was a reserve in the team’s first two games in the world qualifiers.

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“Yung mga reserves nung last window, malaking papel para sa amin ito. Kailangan naming ma-fill yung gaps na iiwan nila.   

“If ever ma lineup man ako, hopefully maging maganda ang lalaruin ko.”

But hoping against the odds, Cruz said it would really be to Gilas’s advantage if the three players are around, especially Abueva.

“Sana mabigyan ng second chance,” said Cruz of his Alaska teammate, who continue to practice with the team as part of the Gilas pool. “Iba pa rin si Calvin, and sila Raymund and Troy din. Mas beterano sila sa amin at mas magaling sila sa amin.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos