Coming off cloud nine after winning gold in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games with Gilas Pilipinas “Redeem Team”, Arvin Tolentino admitted that he hoped to be part of the pool for the upcoming World Cup.
On Tuesday, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas released the 21-man pool for the biggest stage in basketball happening from August to September here in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.
Tolentino was not included.
“Oo winish ko rin na sana makasama ako. But I respect the decision of the management and Coach Chot (Reyes) syempre,” said Tolentino on Friday, making his PBA On Tour debut for Northport.
“Siya (Reyes) yung may alam talaga kung anong the best for the team. And I’m sure kung sino man nilagay na tao doon, I’m sure ibibigay nila yung best nila. And I’ll be supporting them 100 percent all the way kasi they still represent me, my country. So laban lang, puso lang,” shared the 6-foot-5 forward.
Headlining the pool are naturalized players Jordan Clarkson, Justine Brownlee, and Ange Kouame. It also listed players abroad in Kai Sotto, Carl Tamayo, Rhenz Abando, Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks, Dwight Ramos, Jordan Heading, and AJ Edu.
Rounding out the pool are Scottie Thompson, Jamie Malonzo, Japeth Aguilar, Roger Pogoy, Poy Erram, Calvin Oftana, Chris Newsome, CJ Perez, and June Mar Fajardo.
Now, Tolentino will shift his focus to leading the Batang Pier, who just lost star Robert Bolick to Japan B.League Division II team Fukushima.
And that he did in his first game back for Northport, unleashing 22 points including four triples to go with five rebounds, two blocks, and two steals in just 24 minutes off the bench.
It was also his long bombs that stopped the third-quarter comeback of Blackwater en route to the 112-95 wire-to-wire win at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The 27-year-old sniper pointed out that the whole team should step up to fill the huge shoes left by Bolick. However, he also acknowledged that he, of all players, should step up the most.
“I think lahat naman kami lumaki yung role nung nawala si Robert, hindi lang naman ako. I think it’s really up to us as a team na talagang mag step up although yun nga I think as the next man up, ako yung pinakamalaking kailangan iimprove, iadjust,” he said.
Playing against the region’s best, Tolentino said the SEA Games experience was a big boost for him as Gilas reclaimed the gold medal after losing it last year to Indonesia.
Aside from encountering tough opponents, he also relished the chance of playing alongside the Philippines’ best hoopers.
“Actually malaking tulong yun sa akin eh kasi playing against the best players in Southeast Asia and some players from USA, talagang makakatulong yun kasi makalaban mo ba naman magagaling and of course kakampi mo best of the best din tapos gold pa. As a whole experience sobrang laking tulong sa akin, sa career ko.”