ANTIPOLO – Arvin Tolentino doesn’t mind at all being cut from the final Gilas Pilipinas roster for the ongoing FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers.
The NorthPort forward was among the three players not included in the 14-man squad that flew out of the country earlier this week, but only has immense gratitude for the opportunity alone of becoming part of the national team.
“Masaya naman,” he said shortly after leading the Batang Pier past Terrafirma in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Saturday night at the Ynares Center here. “I think I gained a lot in practicing with the best players in the PBA.”
Tolentino was part of the 20-man talent pool for the ongoing WCQ window, among the Ginebra players who formed part of the roster mostly made up of pros coming from the Gin Kings, TNT, and San Miguel Beer.
His status with Gilas became clouded with uncertainty for a while when he was traded to NorthPort last September, although the 25-year-old still attended their practices as he looked at it as a chance to grow — and to help also.
“Ginrab ko rin ‘yung opportunity. Hindi ako nag-miss ng practice kasi sayang eh,” he shared proudly. “Extra practice, extra time to improve.
“I wanted to be there para matulungan din ‘yung team, of course dahil alam naman natin na hindi lahat available to practice every day,” added Tolentino. “Pumupunta rin ako to help the coaches, extra body roon.”
The former youth team standout is still keeping tabs with Gilas while here at home, in full support of his brothers’ journey in Window 5.
“Kahit ‘di ako nakasama, full support ako sa kanila. It’s still our country they’re representing and I’m proud kasi nanalo sila nung isang araw,” he said, referring to their 74-66 win over Jordan last Friday.
“Hopefully manalo sila next game,” he added as the Filipino dribblers are set to take on Saudi Arabia in Jeddah on Monday midnight (Manila time).
And should there be another call-up soon, Tolentino vowed that he will be ready. “Sana, sana,” said the versatile 6-foot-5 winger out of FEU.
“Gagawin ko lang din ‘yung best ko para ma-prove sa team na I deserve. But, it’s a long way. I’ll try to keep on improving my game.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.