ARNOLD Van Opstal admitted he has been cut from the Gilas Pilipinas pool after skipping a handful of practice sessions to attend to a personal problem some time during the national team’s buildup for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship last month.
The San Miguel Beer rookie said he asked permission to miss practice to cater to a childhood friend who had been in critical condition in a hospital following a motorcycle accident.
“Apparently, it wasn’t a good enough reason for them,” Van Opstal said in a chat with SPIN.ph after San Miguel practice on Saturday. “I told them I couldn’t come to practice because of that. Unfortunately, they decided to take me out. It is what it is.”
“Hopefully, they understand that it was a real situation,” he added. “It was between life and death. It goes beyond basketball, man.”
Van Opstal, though declined to mention the name of his Australian friend who he has known since he was 10 years old.
“He’s like a brother to me,” the Filipino-German cager said. “He didn’t have any family here. No one was taking care of him, and he was dying.”
The 25-year-old Van Opstal, though, has no ill feelings toward Gilas.
“I’ve had great experiences there, especially in Iran,” Van Opstal said, referring to his stint as part of the 2016 Fiba Asia Challenge team under coach Josh Reyes. “Coach Josh probably being one of the best coaches I’ve ever encountered.”
“So it’s kind of sad that that happened, but hopefully, one day, I’ll get another chance,” he added.
This time, the 6-foot-9 slotman can earn his spot after being compulsory taken by San Miguel in the special rookie draft last year.
“I’ll actually be able to get a chance where I deserve it – not just because I’m six-foot-nine and athletic,” Van Opstal said. "I want to be there because I’ve proven something. But right now, I haven’t proven anything. I’m a rookie.”
“Hopefully when that arises, they’ll take me again,” he added.