In Gilas Pilipinas’ first and only tune-up game prior to the 19th Asian Games, it was the newcomers who played alongside the original seven.
CJ Perez and Arvin Tolentino played crucial roles in the Philippines’ 86-81 victory over the KBL team Changwon LG on Friday, while Chris Ross, Kevin Alas, and Marcio Lassiter also had limited playing time.
Calvin Abueva couldn’t make it to Philsports Arena as he had to attend to a family matter.
According to Cone, there is still hope regarding the eligibility of Romeo, Abueva, Tautuaa, and Perkins in the upcoming Asiad.
“Is there no hope for them? They’re breathing. That’s about all I can say. They’re breathing at this point and still alive,” said Cone.
However, Cone and his team will continue their preparations with the assumption that the newcomers, Perez, Tolentino, Ross, and Alas, will be the four who will play in their first game in China on Tuesday against Bahrain.
“We will have a definitive lineup by the 24th, but for now, we have our 12 players, and that’s who we will continue to practice with.
“If those four suddenly become eligible, we would have to make that decision. I think it’s likely that we would include them because they were with us longer than the new guys, and they also balance out the lineup in terms of size,” said the Ginebra coach.
Tolentino, whom Cone had previously coached with the Barangay, made the most of his 12 minutes and 11 seconds on the floor, scoring nine points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, along with five rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
“I thought Arvin played well tonight, CJ was awesome, so the guys stepped in, and it didn’t seem like they needed much time,” added the team’s tactician.
Originally scheduled to fly to China tomorrow, Gilas postponed it to Sunday to have one final practice in Manila before heading to the quadrennial event.
Before leaving, Cone is hoping to receive information regarding the status of the four players who were not on the 37-man list.
“We were supposed to leave tomorrow, then we delayed it for a day so we could have one more practice before we go after this game.
“We’re going to practice tomorrow and then leave on Sunday, and that is the 24th, so who knows, maybe we’ll have information by that time. I don’t know,” Cone closed.