ALASKA on Monday clarified that its starting center Sonny Thoss can only join Gilas Pilipinas' weekly practices as an observer, insisting the set-up has the appoval of PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
Just hours after Gilas coach Chot Reyes tweeted that Thoss has been given the green light to attend the Monday practices, Alaska team manager Dickie Bachmann clarified the Aces' starting center was only allowed to go to the once-a-week sessions but is barred from joining the training.
“He can observe, but he cannot play,” said when reached by Spin.ph. “That’s our agreement with the PBA and Gilas."
Bachmann also reiterated that the set-up was approved by Salud by way of a memo which was written even before Reyes made the selections for his 17-man pool public.
Alaska also furnished Spin.ph an official statement from team owner Wilfred Uytengsu, Jr. who finally broke his silence on the matter two days after reports came out that the organization is barring its starting slotman from joining until after the end of its Commissioner's Cup campaign.
“In our case, we made it clear to Commissioner Salud that we would make any of our players chosen to the national pool (available) when Alaska was eliminated from the current second conference,” said Uytengsu, adding the request was "concurred by the PBA chief."
Bachmann, for his part, claimed that Salud had come out with a memo stating that “Thoss can only join Gilas practice after Alaska’s campaign in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup."
"We have the PBA memo, he (Salud) agreed to it. He understood it. We are just following what was committed to us”, said Bachmann, adding he was puzzled why the agreement was not made public before and after Chot Reyes revealed the members of his Fiba-Asia pool.
"As far as I we know, it was communicated. You have to ask commish why the delay."
Asked why they made the request to excuse Thoss from joining the weekly practices, Bachmann said they didn't want their top big man to lose focus on the team's title aspirations.
“Sonny has been with Gilas for how many conferences now, it’s human nature, he might get tired also. He wants to play, but human nature, he’s gonna bog down. That’s our only concern,” said Bachmann of the slotman, who averages 38 minutes per game for the Aces.
Uytengsu said the pro league has made plenty of sacrifices for the national team by altering the schedule of the season-ending Governors Cup to give Gilas ample time to prepare for the Fiba-Asia Championships which the country will host from August 1-11.
“At the very least, the entire team (Gilas) will be together for two months and maybe more. That’s what was requested. That's what was committed," added Uytengsu.
Asked if Alaska is not concerned about being pictured as a villain in the controversy, Bachmann said: “In the past, Alaska was always there to support the RP team."
Uytengsu also reiterated that Alaska has made a lot of sacrifices for flag and country in the past, especially during the time of the 1998 Centennial Team handled by then Alaska coach Tim Cone.
“The Alaska franchise has frequently stepped up to answer the call of the country in international competition,” he said. “In 1998, Alaska gave up the bulk of its team and its coaching staff to support the Asian Games bid and forwent a possible second Grand Slam after having won the first two conferences in 1998.”