There were exactly 12 players in uniform present at Gilas Pilipinas’ first practice in preparation for the 19th Asian Games on Monday at the Philsports Arena.
These players included naturalized players Ange Kouame and Justin Brownlee, FIBA World Cup holdovers Scottie Thompson, June Mar Fajardo, and Japeth Aguilar, as well as the returning Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva.
Also among the 12 were Jason Perkins, Mo Tautuaa, Chris Newsome, Stanley Pringle, and Calvin Oftana.
Roger Pogoy was in the venue, but he was wearing street clothes and left early.
To provide clarity regarding the current composition of the Gilas squad that will compete in Hangzhou, China two weeks from now, newly-appointed head coach Tim Cone shared two important updates.
Abueva and Perkins, who both play wing positions in their respective PBA clubs, are not yet 100 percent certain to be part of the team due to technical issues.
In the initial 60-man list that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas submitted to the Asian Games, these two players were not included. However, Cone and his team are seeking to make a case for special replacements for Jamie Malonzo and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, two players who were part of the 60-man preliminary pool but couldn’t join Gilas due to injuries.
“We’re still uncertain about Perkins and Calvin Abueva. They are assured a spot on the team if they are allowed to join,” said Cone after Gilas’ three-hour practice.
“They were not on the original list of 60 that we submitted. Due to Jamie’s and Brandon’s injuries, we’re trying to request a ruling that would allow us to replace them with Calvin and Perk.”
According to the Barangay Ginebra tactician, they should receive a ruling from the Asian Games by the weekend.
The inclusion of Perkins and Abueva would significantly impact this Gilas team as they would fill the wing positions, allowing Brownlee to shift between different roles.
“Yeah, this is our group, and this is the direction we want to go in. We’re really keeping our fingers crossed for Jason and Calvin because these are the positions we lack,” continued Cone.
“We don’t really have those three-four guys, and if we can get them, it makes us more versatile because it means we can move Justin around to different positions,” he added.
“Without them, we’re heavily loaded with guards or big men. We don’t have players in between, so Calvin and Perk are essential for us, and hopefully, we can include them.”
Meanwhile, Pogoy is a certain inclusion in the Final 12 despite not practicing due to a medical issue.
Pringle, on the other hand, will serve as the team’s 13th man, ready to step in if there’s an injury or if the situation with Perkins and Abueva doesn’t have a favorable resolution.
“Stanley is here as an alternate, as the 13th man. He’s an alternate in case anything happens. If Calvin and Perk can’t make it, he’ll be one of the players we put in the lineup in case of injuries,” shared the winningest coach in the PBA.
“He’s here because he knows the system and everything. It was a logical choice for us, and he’s willing to be here with the understanding that he may not make the top 12. At this point, he’s an alternate,” he added.
“Roger is the one who’s truly here, but he has a medical issue, so we hope it clears up by tomorrow. He’s supposed to be part of the Final 12.”