ALASKA center Sonny Thoss has been cleared by Aces team owner Wilfred Uytengsu to join Smart-Gilas 2.0 for the Fiba Asia-Cup (formerly Stankovic Cup) in Tokyo, Japan after laying down two conditions for the slotman.
This was confirmed by Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo after the team’s practice on Friday afternoon at the Reyes gym.
Trillo said Uytengsu gave the 6-7 Thoss the green light on the condition that the player delay his departure for Tokyo by a day and promise that he will immediately fly back to Manila if Smart Gilas 2.0 is knocked out of contention.
“Even if Gilas still has a few games left on its schedule, once they get eliminated, Sonny will have to leave for Manila earlier,” said Trillo.
Uytengsu took into consideration the fact that Thoss is the longest-tenured player in the Aces' lineup as he softened his stand on not allowing the team's players to join Gilas in the Tokyo tournament.
“Boss Fred took to consideration Sonny’s being the longest tenured player in the team right now,” Trillo told Spin.ph. "Boss Fred heard what Sonny said during their talk and after weighing things carefully, he has allowed Sonny to join the Gilas team."
Thoss, who belonged to the 2004 PBA rookie class that included current San Mig Coffee (formerly B-Meg) superstar James Yap and Talk ‘N Text’s Richard Alvarez (the top overall pick), was elated by Uytengsu’s decision.
“Who wouldn’t want to represent the country? I mean, playing for the national team gives me an opportunity to grow further as an athlete. It’s basically going up to the next level. The rest is just a bonus, like getting to know other culture whenever we travel,” Thoss said.
The Fil-German Alaska center said he understood Uytengsu’s desire to keep the team intact during the offseason since the Aces didn’t do well the past season.
“I know boss Fred is concerned with my health because I will have to practice with the team immediately once we’re done playing in the Asia Cup. But I also explained that this is an opportunity for me to play for the country. And he understood my point,” added Thoss, whose German father and Filipina mother are now based in Cebu City.
The soft-spoken Alaska center is naturalized player Marcus Douthit’s chief backup in the recent Jones Cup, where Smart-Gilas 2.0 posted a 7-1 win-loss record en route to bagging the annual tournament in Taipei.
Thoss was also part of the national squad handled by Yeng Guiao which placed eighth in the 2009 Fiba Asia men’s championship in Tianjin, China.