THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) didn’t find it hard this time to convince schools to release their players to the Gilas cadet national pool for the team bound for two Southeast Asian-level competitions this year.
SBP deputy executive director for international affairs Butch Antonio said school teams from where the 16-man pool were culled all responded to the call to release their players to the national squad.
The pool from which the final roster of Sinag Pilipinas will be formed, features a good mix of players representing different schools, including five from De La Salle, three of whom still have playing years left in the Taft-based school in Jeron Teng, Arnold Van Opstal, and Prince Rivero.
The other two LaSallians are Norbert Torres and Almond Vosotros, both of whom are now playing for Cebuana Lhuillier in the PBA D-League.
Other college players in the pool are Baser Amer (San Beda), Mac Belo (Far Eastern University), Kevin Ferrer (University of Santo Tomas), Jiovanni Jalalon (Arellano), Kiefer Ravena and Thirdy Ravena (Ateneo), and Scottie Thompson (University of Perpetual Help).
“We are thankful that all parties, not only La Salle but other schools as well, are supportive. We will do our share in reaching out to all concerned to ensure the program, not only the Gilas cadet, but also the other programs of SBP, is there,” Antonio said.
SBP is going to select 12 out of the 16 members of the pool to comprise Sinag Pilipinas in its campaign in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) championship on April 27-May 1 in Singapore.
From the pool, the final 12 will also be selected for the Southeast Asian Games set in June this year also in Singapore.
National coach Tab Baldwin said he didn’t find any difficulty in getting the best players possible to join the Gilas cadet tryouts.
“Look, I don’t know really if there were any discussions at all. I think everybody has been extremely cooperative. We sent out the message that we are going to select these players and told them the training time,” Baldwin said.
In order for the players not to have conflicting schedule practicing with their respective schools and the Gilas cadets, Baldwin and his coaching staff organized the national team tryout and its subsequent practices at night.
“We tried to make it late at night so we will have little conflict as possible,” said the Gilas Pilipinas mentor.
Antonio added being part of the Gilas cadets is all about the country, as preparations for the Seaba and the SEA Games continue.
“I think right now kasi being part of the national team should transcend personalities. Nothing is above representing the national team,” said Antonio.