GILAS Pilipinas has been officially informed that it won't be invited to this year's Jones Cup tournament where it is the reigning champion, with organizers saying they can't guarantee the team's safety amid tension between the two countries over the death of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes confirmed to Spin.ph that the team has received the official communication from Taipei organizers in the form of a letter on Monday.
"This is a big blow to our preparations (for the Fiba-Asia tournament)," Reyes said.
According to Reyes, organizers explained at length that the Philippine team's presence in the tournament may lead to a situation that will be difficult to control since previous PH teams that have competed in the tournament, including Gilas, have attracted big groups of Filipino overseas workers.
"Sunod-sunod ang problema, but we just have to overcome them," said Reyes, whose 17-man pool has been hit with injuries and health injuries that have ruled out Kelly Williams and Jared Dillinger.
Two other players, Sonny Thoss and Ryan Reyes, are set to miss out on Gilas' training camp in Lithuania due to injuries while Reyes' bid to draft other players like Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva has failed.
"The Jones Cup was supposed to be the final phase of our preparations for the Fiba-Asia," said Reyes. "Guess we just have to find a replacement event where we can compete."
The multi-titled coach, however, pointed out that the Jones Cup slated on July 6-14 would have been a perfect jump-off point for the Fiba-Asia showpiece since most of the teams competing in the August 1-11 event in Manila will also be competing in the Taipei tournament.