PLAYERS tapped for the Smart Gilas team in the ongoing 24th Dubai International basketball tournament are willing to give way to more heralded players if only to ensure the country will send the best possible unit for the FIBA-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship.
Both KG Canaleta and young Kevin Louie Alas expressed willingness to step aside and give up their slots in the national team just to accommodate the PBA superstars initially coveted by coach Chot Reyes but, for one reason or another, failed to make themselves available for Gilas.
At the same time, the two believe the Philippines has a strong chance to qualify in the 2014 Fiba-World Basketball Championship if Gilas would be made up of the best players in the country today.
“Ang daming players na pwedeng maglaro for our country … Kaya natin (mag top 3) kung lahat papayagan at kung lahat mag-co-commit sa program,” said Canaleta, one of three players from the PBA tapped by Reyes to suit up for the cadet-dominated Gilas side in the Dubai cage meet.
Along with Jay-R Reyes and Ronjay Buenafe, the high-flying forward and many-time slam dunk champion was included by Reyes in the team after most of the players invited to join Gilas turned down the invitations.
“I’ll be happy to be part of the national team for FIBA Asia, if kailangan nila ako. If not … OK lang rin,” added Canaleta.
Shortly after Fiba-Asia officially moved the hosting of the world basketball championship qualifier from Lebanon to the Philippines, PBA team owners assured Commissioner Chito Salud of their willingness to lend players to the national team for the August 1-11 cage tournament.
Alas doesn’t see any conflict with that especially if it is for national cause.
“Okay lang sa akin kung papasok ang mga PBA stars (sa Gilas). Kung ano ang feeling ni coach Chot na best for the team para sa Pilipinas, andun man ako o wala, I will be happy as long as manalo tayo sa Fiba-Asia,” said Alas, one of four playing sons of former Letran coach and now Alaska assistant mentor Louie Alas.
The young Alas also told Spin.ph that part of sacrificing for the country is not just through training hard, but also in accepting the role given to a particular player.
“Basta maging successful ang bansa natin… willing ako magsacrifice,” said Alas, who will mostly likely be bumped off from the team in favor of pro stars Jimmy Alapag, Jason Castro, LA Tenorio, and JV Casio.
Among those coveted by Reyes to play in Dubai but failed to get the green light from their respective mother teams to suit up for Gilas include Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo of SMC-owned Petron.