GILAS cadet coach Jong Uichico remains hopeful that collegiate standouts RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo of Far Eastern University as well as Letran’s Raymund Almazan would still be made available to his Southeast Asian Games-bound national team after being drafted in the PBA.
Uichico feels the 6-foot-7 Almazan’s height and shot-blocking prowess can be a key asset to the national squad, which at the moment only has naturalized center Marcus Douthit and Gilas cadet mainstay Jake Pascual in the frontline with De La Salle standout Arnold Van Opstal still to commit to the team.
On the other hand, Garcia and Romeo, the reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player, will give the Philippine team the depth in the guard spot, Uichico added.
“Of course, we’d like to play with a complete lineup with the three around. However, everything will depend on their mother teams once they all get drafted,” Uichico told Spin.ph on Sunday.
After the PBA draft, Uichico said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will officially request for the three incoming rookies’ availability for the national team bound for the Maynmar Games.
However, the three will have to sit out the first two months of the next PBA season if they commit to the SEA Games mission.
“Should they be allowed, that means they will not play in the PBA kasi iba yung ipahiram sa iyo at iba rin yung di na muna sila lalaro sa PBA so they can practice with us. But the SBP will make the necessary negotiations for that,” explained the former national player-turned national coach.
Uichico, also a multi-titled PBA coach, said he already gathered the members of the national pool on Friday evening at the San Juan Fil-Oil Flying V Arena to get their commitment as well as come up with an ideal practice schedule.
The national team’s schedule for the time being is Tuesdays and Thursday at 6-8 p.m., while their Monday-Wednesday-Friday practices are not yet final pending an available venue.
Ateneo star guard Kiefer Ravena along with Gilas cadet members Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete, Matt Ganuelas, Jake Pascual and Ronald Pascual, all showed up for the team’s first meeting while Almazan arrived late after coming in straight from Letran's practice.
Absent were National University standout and two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks, Adamson’s Jericho Cruz, University of Santo Tomas’ Kevin Ferrer, Van Opstal and University of the East’s Roi Sumang.