When Coach Chot Reyes unveiled the final 14 that will fly to Australia for Gilas’ campaign in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Sunday evening, there were two surprises.
First was Calvin Abueva. Abueva, together with Raymond Almazan, was cut from the pool last January 22 after missing multiple practices. Apparently, Reyes had a change of heart, especially after Gilas was plagued by injuries.
But the most surprising was the inclusion of Abu Tratter. A native of Laguna, Tratter was named to the 23 for 2023 pool. Still, the 6-foot-7 big man out of the De La Salle University made sure to help out the team train for the second window.
His perseverance paid off ,as he will join the likes of June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, and Andray Blatche in Gilas.
Tratter did not know up until Reyes’ tweet that he would be part of the team. It wasn’t a surprise, however, as he knew that Gilas’ brass had seen the work he put in, night in and night out.
“Of course, it’s always a surprise when you get added to something like that, but I was confident that I can make the team. That’s always been my goal. I know that through working hard, I can get there,” the 25-year-old shared.
Moreover, this is a childhood dream of his, as ever since he moved from Laguna to the States, he’d always dreamt of returning back home and represent his country.
“This is such a blessing for me. Not only is it an opportunity for me to represent the country but to also fulfill my dreams as a young amateur player,” the two-time UAAP champion expressed.
“I’m the only rookie on this team. Ever since I was young, I was always dreaming of representing my country.”
Being part of Gilas has huge expectations that comes with it. Still, Tratter plans to meet those expectations through sheer hard work.
“I vow to work hard and fulfill everybody’s expectations.”