HEROES of the Jones Cup-winning team led by LA Tenorio are expected to be mixed with new recruits like June Mar Fajardo and Marc Pingris when national coach Chot Reyes reveals the composition of the Gilas Pilipinas team vying in the Fiba-Asia Men's Basketball Championship.
Reyes kept his cards close to his chest on the eve of the announcement, saying nothing except to rule out surprises from the lineup which he will first reveal to the PBA board when it convenes on Thursday in a special board meeting at the league's office in Libis, Quezon City.
A press conference will follow soon after, with Reyes naming one by one the players who will be tasked to battle Asia's finest when the Fiba-Asia showpiece, formerly known as the ABC championships, returns to the country for the first time in 40 years in August.
The multi-titled Reyes had long laid down what he wants for his Fiba-Asia team - a versatile team armed with speed, fine outside shooting, and a sprinkling of role players as he chooses his team under the one-player-per-PBA team policy agreed upon by the board.
Reyes, however, has been given the latitude to pick more than one player from each team, which he can do with the ballclubs' consent.
But with only two months to prepare for the biggest battle of his tenure as Gilas coach, Reyes is expected to put a premium on familiarity and stick with the nucleus of the Gilas team that won the Jones Cup in Taipei and finished fourth in the Fiba-Asia Cup late last year.
As much as eight players from that team should make the lineup - Rain or Shine's Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan, Talk 'N Text's Ranidel de Ocampo and either Jared Dillinger or Larry Fonacier, Globalport's Gary David, Alaska's Sonny Thoss, and Tenorio along with naturalized player Marcus Douthit.
Reyes, however, needs to plug the holes of that team - the reason Fajardo is a shoo-in as Douthit's back-up at the center position and Pingris will come in to add toughness and size to Gilas' frontline.
Jason Castro, the best player of the last Philippine Cup, is expected to be tapped as a back-up for Tenorio at point guard, with Jimmy Alapag another alternative.
Reyes is also expected to make a bid for Arwind Santos, if he can convince Petron to lend more than one player to Gilas, and tap Kelly Williams of Talk 'N Text if the former PBA MVP is still up for another national team stint.
There was also talk on the eve of the announcement that Reyes plans to talk to Japeth Aguilar to see if he is interested in joining the Gilas pool - no doubt as a back-up plan for the frontline if Santos and Williams, or both, becomes unavailable.
Asked by Spin.ph if fans can expect surprises from his selection, Reyes replied: "I don't think so."
Ideally, Reyes said he wants to name a 15-man pool if he can get the approval of the board. But if he fails to get the green light, he will pick 12 pro players and most likely fill his lineup with players from Gilas' cadet pool like Greg Slaughter, Matt Ganuelas, and Garvo Lanete.
Tenorio, the MVP of the Jones Cup, said he's prepared for the twice-a-day practice should he be named to the team.
“Sana nga makuha ako. Ready ako mag-sakripisyo pag nagsimula na ang practice,” Tenorio told Spin.ph.
Once the lineup is finalized, Reyes is expected to call the team’s first practice on Monday, which as approved by the PBA, will be scheduled once a week for the time being at the Philsports Arena.