Gilas Pilipinas only played with 10 healthy men to close out the first round of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers after Dave Ildefonso was ruled out due to a knee injury.
And the 6-foot guard out of Ateneo de Manila University is also set to miss the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup which takes place from July 12 to 24 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“We played with 10 players because Dave Ildefonso is out, he will not go to the Asia Cup. Right now, I’m not sure if we are going to have more than 10 players,” said Gilas head coach Nenad Vucinic after Gilas’ 79-63 win over India.
Also out for Gilas is big man Angelo Kouame as he is still recuperating from a partially torn ACL.
With this, Vucinic is looking to bring in a couple of wingers to complete the national team in the continental meet, namely Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks.
“We are hoping to have Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks in the team. It’s good to have a full 12,” continued Vucinic.
Ravena last played for Gilas during the first window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers while Parks has not put on a Pilipinas jersey since the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
However, Gilas will still be undersized in the tournament. Geo Chiu is the only legitimate center the team has while William Navarro, Carl Tamayo, and Kevin Quiambao have been playing out of position.
“We are in a situation that we are playing unbalanced as a team. We don’t really have enough size, enough big guys that we can rotate. We are playing William Navarro out of position as a big guy so it is difficult because of the composition of the team.
“We don’t expect really any more help on the big position because the PBA is being played and we cannot get any players there for that tournament,” lamented the Serbian-Kiwi head coach. “We cannot think about that anymore. We have played the same lineup for a month as well and we have to continue to find ways to make up for the lack of size. That has to go to the defensive end.”
Come the Asia Cup, Gilas will still be slotted with New Zealand, India, and Lebanon. The same Tall Blacks and Indian team they faced this week.
The top team in each group will advance to the quarterfinals while the second and third ranked teams will have to figure in a playoff.
“It’s an advantage to all of the teams if you played someone recently. You know what they are running. It’s not so much you can change before the games,” he said.
“We know that New Zealand is a top-level team, we know we can beat India, but Lebanon is a little bit unknown. Lebanon is a strong team and they are coming off a very good performance against Jordan, winning by 20 points. They are pretty close to New Zealand’s level,” he continued.
“Playing against those two teams will be a challenge but I told the guys that this is an opportunity for us and we have to look forward to it.”