A mix of veterans and cadets will likely make up the Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 roster for the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) men’s championship slate at the Smart Araneta Coliseum this summer.
National coach Chot Reyes raised such possibility as he takes nothing to chance amid reports regional rival Thailand is set to field a roster filled with foreign-bred players for the May 12-18 meet that serves as qualifier to the Fiba Asia Cup in August.
Only the Seaba champion gets to qualify outright to Beirut, Lebanon for the August 10-21 meet.
“Yeah, most probably,” said Reyes in reply to SPIN.ph when asked if he’ll do away with an all-cadets team in the six-day tournament the country has long dominated.
The Thais, perennial rivals of the Filipinos in cage supremacy in this side of the world, are currently working on the inclusion of Thai-American Tyler Lamb in their lineup for the Seaba tournament.
The 26-year-old US-raised Lamb has confirmed to SPIN.ph that moves are being made by Thailand basketball officials during a recent Asean Basketball League (ABL) game between Alab Pilipinas and Hong Kong Eastern, where the guard out of Long Beach State is currently playing.
Thailand had already tapped another Thai-American in Moses Morgan when its national team saw action in a tournament in Hong Kong a year ago.
In the last two meetings between the Filipinos and Thais, the country – playing with an almost all-cadet roster – was given a scare by its longtime rival before winning gold in both the 2015 SEA Games and Seaba, respectively.
All these is not lost on Reyes.
“We’ve scouted them already. Nakailang scouting trip na sila Jong (Uichico) and Jimmy (Alapag) and coach Josh (Reyes), so basically we know exactly what we’re doing,” said Reyes.
On Wednesday, the PBA board of governors agreed to release 15 players from the 25-man Gilas training pool at least 15 days before the Seaba tournament proper.
Getting the needed time to prepare together as a unit is what actually concerns Reyes more.
“Our concern is always getting fully prepared, kasi as you know ongoing ang PBA season so hopefully we can get more time with the team to train as a team on a full-time basis,” he stressed.
“Like I said, we just need to make sure that we are prepared for them.”
The Gilas training pool already began its regular weekly practice last Monday at the Meralco gym.
The 12 cadet players in the pool include Mac Belo, Matthew Wright, Kevin Ferrer, Ed Daquioag, Roger Pogoy, Arnold Van Opstal, Mike Tolomia, Von Pesumal, Alfonso Gotladera, Carl Bryan Cruz, Jio Jalalon, and Russel Escoto.
The 12-man veterans on the other hand is composed of June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Raymund Almazan, LA Revilla, Norbert Torres, Allein Maliksi, Troy Rosario, Bradwyn Guinto, and Almond Vosotros.
Jonathan Gray is the only rookie who’s part of the old-timers, while Art dela Cruz is currently recuperating from surgery to repair his ruptured Achilles.