NOT taking any chances, the Smart Gilas-Pilipinas team to the South East Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) championship has tapped the services of three Alaska players to reinforce its campaign in the July 3-7 tournament in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
L.A. Tenorio, Sonny Thoss, and Mac Baracael were added to the core of the team to be handled by Jong Uichico. The three, part of the 16-man, all-pro national training pool of coach Chot Reyes, immediately became available after the Aces ended their campaign in the PBA Governors' Cup Wednesday night.
“To the graciousness of Alaska, they allowed these three players to be part of the national team to the Seaba, and we’re very thankful for that,” said Smart Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, who attended Thursday’s PBA Board meeting, where Reyes made the announcement on the inclusion of the three Aces.
Also comprising the squad are Marcus Douthit, Chris Tiu, Aldrech Ramos, Garvo Lanete, Eman Monfort, Woody Co, Dave Marcelo, and Borgie Hermida. With the exception of Douthit, Tiu, and Ramos, the rest are members of three-time PBA D-League champions NLEX.
Cliff Hodge, the Foundation Cup Best Player of the Conference, Chris Ellis, and Vic Manuel were originally listed as part of the team. But Hodge and Ellis' papers have yet been settled, while Manuel was dropped from the roster for failing to show up in Gilas' practices.
The team will be leaving on Sunday for the five-day competition that serves as qualifier to the Fiba-Asia Cup otherwise known as the Stankovic Cup. Only the top squad at the end of the single-round elimination will earn a berth to the Tokyo, Japan meet set this September.
“People may always say that this is only the SEABA, pero sa akin, seeing how things have been developing in the region, competition is not at all that easy as before,” said Antonio. “We still have a strong chance, but you don’t want to take the risk.”
Other than the Philippines, countries also seeing action are Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.
“In addition to Aldrech, Marcus, and Chris (Tiu), the addition of Tenorio, Thoss, and Baracael makes the team a lot more solid. Mas malakas tayo to ensure a first place finish,” added the Gilas team manager.