Looking at TNT’s lineup there are four must-haves for Gilas Pilipinas when it heads to the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers later this month.
Many expect Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, and Poy Erram to be shoo-ins for the national team as it takes on South Korea twice, India, and New Zealand from February 24-28 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Definitely, Pogoy, Rosario, and Erram are no-brainers, according to Chot Reyes.
“For sure, those who have international experience like Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Poy Erram, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out,” Reyes quipped about the trio who last played for the national team during the first window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on PlayItRight TV.
Castro, though, is a different case.
It was three years ago when the two-time All-FIBA Asia Cup member retired from national team duties. Even the hosting of the 31st Southeast Asian Games could not pull him out of retirement.
Ever the loyal soldier to Reyes, Castro bared to his mentor that he is willing to suit up one more time. However, what he is worried about is the schedule of the games.
Gilas face South Korea on the 24th then takes on India the next day. After a two-day break, the Philippines will face the New Zealand Tall Blacks on the 27th followed by one more game against South Korea to close out the tournament.
“Jayson is more than willing, he is ready.
“But very realistically, we are really, and he is really, concerned about playing the back-to-back games of the FIBA window,” said Reyes about Castro, whose last appearance for the national team was back on February 25, 2019 against Kazakhstan. “If he were a few years younger, no problem. But now — to play four games in five days, it’s an issue that we are trying to work through. He is ready, he is willing but I really can’t say for certain.”
“I have Matt Ganuelas-Rosser as well. I recruited him as well for the national team. Carl Bryan Cruz has international experience as well,” added Reyes.
“Hindi na sila mamamahalibo sa international experience.”
But at the end of the day, what will matter for Reyes is how his TNT players mesh with Dwight Ramos, Angelo Kouame, Juan Gomez de Liano, William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, and Tzaddy Rangel.
After all, it’s those six players who are either full-time Gilas players or were given direct invites to the national team.
“We’ll see. What we are doing now is to do our practices. It’s funny, it’s chop suey, halo-halo, whatever you want to call it,” quipped the charismatic tactician.
“What we are trying to figure out is who can play with whom and together and, at the same time, maintaining their rhythm and their preparation for Talk ‘N Text to be ready for Feb 11.”