AIR21 coach Franz Pumaren believes that his prized swingman KG Canaleta can contribute immensely to the Smart Gilas 2.0 squad of national coach Chot Reyes.
Speaking just hours after Canaleta accepted Reyes’ invitation to join Gilas' practice starting on Friday, Pumaren said: "That (invitation) for me is a recognition of KG’s efforts because he has really played well this conference for us.
“I’m happy because KG has been in the PBA for a long time and that recognition is long overdue. I’m thankful KG was given the break,” added the Air21 mentor.
Canaleta is coming off a career-best 17.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 29.6 minutes in the PBA Philippine Cup where the Express bowed out at the quarterfinal stage.
The 2006 sixth overall pick, acquired by Air21 from Ginebra last season, gave up his holiday vacation to join Reyes' national squad in its buildup for an international tournament in Dubai early next year.
Smart Gilas 2.0, which will also be bannered by several members of the cadet pool led by Greg Slaughter and Kiefer Ravena, will play its first international tournament for 2013 on January 10-20 in Dubai.
The 6’6” Canaleta, a four-time PBA slamdunk king, told Reyes through his Twitter account @iamKaygee that “it’s an honor to be called to join the practice of gilas .. Thank you for the invitation coach.”
Reyes also took to Twitter to thank the Air21 swingman for sacrificing his vacation for the sake of the national team.