JAPETH Aguilar and Ryan Reyes were the surprise choices when national coach Chot Reyes revealed his lineup on Thursday for the Gilas Pilipinas team to the Fiba-Asia championships this August.
The core of the Gilas team that won the Jones Cup last year make up the main bulk of the 17-man pool, namely LA Tenorio, Gary David, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Sonny Thoss, Ranidel de Ocampo, Larry Fonacier, Jared Dillinger and naturalized player Marcus Douthit.
Now tapped to reinforce that team are San Mig's Marc Pingris, Petron rookie June Mar Fajardo, Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes, Japeth Aguilar, Kelly Williams and amateur Greg Slaughter who was picked up from the Gilas cadet pool.
“We will prepare as hard as we can. Of course, our goal is to make the top three and qualify for the World Championships. But the dream is to win it all. That should be the only thought in mind. Otherwise, why are we going through all these?” said Reyes.
“We’re not too worried about height. The important thing is we have to have a lot of weapons. Basta makalaban lang tayo sa rebounds. Si Marc Pingris, we all know what he can do and how good he is in rebounding,” Reyes added.
The PBA board earlier unanimously approved the shelving of the Governors Cup — the season-ending conference is now scheduled to start on Aug. 14 shortly after the Fiba-Asia tournament — to clear the way for Gilas Pilipinas' buildup and participation for the Fiba-Asia men's championships in Manila.
“The top groups of Philippine basketball closed ranks for flag and country. Our governors have ratified the consensus among the team owners to transfer schedule of the third conference to a date after the Fiba-Asia to allow Gilas Pilipinas to train longer,” said PBA Commissioner Chito Salud.
“Our eyes are on the prize. We want to win this tournament and qualify for the 2014 world championships,” Salud added.