UNTIL the last minute, player shortage marred Gilas Pilipinas’ preparation for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.
Rookie guard Jeremiah Gray of Barangay Ginebra was the latest to beg off from suiting up for the team looking to wrest back the gold medal from Indonesia, which beat the Philippines in Hanoi, Vietnam last year.
A hurting left knee kept Gray from joining the national squad to Phnom Penh, although he was with Gilas for the duration of its training camp at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna.
“He’s not a hundred percent. He’s feeling something in his leg,” said national coach Chot Reyes of the Fil-Am guard.
Gray wasn’t around when Gilas held its final scrimmage Saturday at the Meralco gym, hours before it leaves for Cambodia.
The No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft was coming off an ACL injury prior to playing for Ginebra starting the Commissioner’s Cup.
He follows the likes of big men June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar who had to beg off as they continue to recover for similar MCL injuries.
Scottie Thompson, Jamie Malonzo, and Mikey Williams meanwhile, also skipped playing for Gilas due to personal reasons.
Veteran Chris Ross, who was chosen as Gilas team captain, said it’s unfortunate Gray won’t be able to travel with Gilas.
“Jeremiah is not comfortable with his leg yet,” said Ross. “We’re behind him as a team, and we understand what he’s going through.
“We wish him well and he’s still part of the group. It’s sad that he couldn’t come. But whatever we got here, we’ll (still be able) to win.”
The injury thus relegated Gray to the SEA Games reserve list.