Some didn’t expect call from Gilas.
Some were surprised, most were simply grateful.
But one prevailing thing common among the 12 young players added to the Gilas Pilipinas national training pool is their readiness to represent the country in international competitions starting this year.
Gilas newcomers Norbert Torres and LA Revilla were both stunned when their names were announced last Sunday by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio after the first game of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
“Hindi pa talaga ako makapaniwala…sobra hanggang ngayon, ‘di pa nagsi-sink in,” said Revilla, the 5-foot-7 point guard of Mahindra who was still at the venue when Panlilio announced the 12 names as the Floodbuster just finished their game against the Alaska Aces.
Torres, the 6-foot-6 center of Phoenix Fuel, expressed excitement over his inclusion which will be the source of talent for Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes as the Philippines competes in different tournaments like the FIBA Asia Cup this August – the qualifier to the 2019 World Cup in China.
A Filipino-Canadian, representing the country isn’t new to Torres as he played for the Philippines under coach Tab Baldwin that retained the gold medal during the 2015 Singapore Southeast Asian Games.
Nevertheless, his inclusion to the 12 PBA players still came as a surprise.
“Just to be part of the pool is a privilege,” said Torres, who heard his name from the team locker room as the Fuel Masters were preparing to play Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
“To be selected to represent your country is a big step in anyone’s career, so for me to get it already into the PBA, I was really honored.”
Other players named by Reyes were Blackwater’s Art dela Cruz, the youngest at 24, Meralco’s Jonathan Grey and NLEX’s Bradwyn Guinto both 25, and Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort who will turn 25 on March 16.
PBA’s reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan are both 27, while Star’s Paul Lee will turn 28 next month, and Alaska’s Calvin Abueva 29 – also next month.
Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar will celebrate his 30th birthday tomorrow, the same age as TNT’s Jayson Castro.