By Jerome Lagunzad
Size does matter for Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes.
The newly-formed Gilas amateur pool won’t have any shortage in height as the Philippines lays the foundation for the 20123 FIBA Basketball World Cup to be co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
The youngest at 16 years old, Kai Sotto is the tallest at 7-foot-2 among the current pool of players which includes notable collegiate and high school standouts and a handful of Fil-foreign ballers.
Eighteen-year old Fil-Nigerian AJ Edu, who’s currently enrolled at Llandovery College in United Kingdom, is the second tallest at 6-foot-11 followed by 6-foot-9 San Beda center Kenmark Cariño who is just 19 years old.
A pair of 6-foot-8 players in Ateneo’s Isaac Go and Fil-Am Troy Rike of Wake Forest University is also being considered along with La Salle’s Abu Tratter and Carl Vincent Tamayo of National University, both 6-foot-7, and 6-foot-6 Will Gozum of Mapua.
“The most exciting (feature of the pool) is the size,” said Reyes in an interview with SportsCenter Philippines on Friday night. “That’s the one thing that is very important for Philippine basketball to really move forward in world competition is to be able to put out teams with size.
“But it’s not a matter of just tall players. They have to be tall players who can move, who can shoot and who can run.”
The wingmen look lanky and versatile with the inclusion of touted Kobe Paras of Cal State Northridge, Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena, San Beda’s Javee Mocon, Arvin Tolentino and Kenneth Tuffin of Far Eastern University, NU’s J-Jay Alejandro and Josh Sinclair, Dwight Ramos of California State University and Letran’s Jeo Ambohot.
“For the wings we want to shy away already from the wingmen who are 6-1 or 6-2 – that’s the prototype shooter that we have today in Philippine basketball. We’re looking for taller wings now like the 6-4 or 6-5 and above who are shooters,” added Reyes.
Emerging as Reyes’ initial prospects for the backcourt rotation are reigning NCAA league MVP CJ Perez of Lyceum, San Beda star Robert Bolick, Paul Desiderio and Juan Gomez de Liaño of University of the Philippines, Arizona State’s Remy Martin and Ateneo’s Matt Nieto, the smallest at 5-foot-10.
Conspicuously missing from the pool are La Salle standouts Ricci Rivero, Santi Santillan and Andrei Caracut. But Reyes admitted the Green Archers management “asked us not to include any of their players first because they’re in the process now of transition and reformation of their program.”
But nothing is cast in stone yet, added Reyes. “This is a pool, this is a list. And it doesn’t mean that these are the players who will all play in 2023, because remember there are still very young players in the current Gilas pool,” he said.
“What we’re saying is, ‘Here is the Gilas pool, here is the 23 for 2023,’ Now it’s up to them to prove to us who belongs to that final roster.”
Some of the aspirants are expected to join the current pool of Gilas Pilipinas training tomorrow for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers next month.