by Waylon Galvez
Eight of the 12 PBA teams will have to make a little sacrifice for flag and country when action in the Commissioner’s Cup resumes tomorrow.
Eleven of the 12 pros named to the Gilas Pilipinas roster last Friday are set to miss the next five playdates before the league takes another break for the SEABA Championship set May 12 to 18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Named to the SEABA roster during the PBA All-Star Week were June Mar Fajardo, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan, Terrence Romeo, Matthew Wright, Allein Maliksi, Jio Jalalon, RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Jayson Castro.
They are joined by naturalized player Andray Blatche, who is due to join the Chot Reyes-mentored Gilas this week.
Of the teams that loaned their players to the national team, TNT KaTropa will be the most affected since it has the most number of Gilas players in Castro, Rosario and Pogoy.
“It’s the ultimate sacrifice for us, three starters ang mawawala sa amin,” said TNT mentor Nash Racela, whose team is scheduled to play three games before the SEABA. “But that’s our commitment for the national team. So we need to adjust.”
“The timing is not perfect siguro (because of the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup), although it’s something that we need to adjust. Almost all the PBA teams naman tatamaan, pero not having your three starters, that is totally different.
“Of course you’re hoping that the opportunity you’ll give to your other players, you’re hoping that they’ll perform well, na yung ibang mga tao e mag-step sana,” added Racela.
The Star Hotshots have two players on the Gilas squad in first-time national player Allein Maliksi and rookie guard Jio Jalalon, while the remaining six teams lose a player each.
League leader San Miguel will play sans Fajardo, the 6-foot-10 reigning three-time MVP, Alaska will be without its energy guy in Abueva, 6-foot-9 forward Aguilar for Ginebra, Almazan will miss games with Rain or Shine, similar with GlobalPort’s Romeo and Phoenix rookie Wright.
The players will miss games at the most crucial time of the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup. The four teams with no player on the Gilas five are Meralco, NLEX, Blackwater and Mahindra.