By Waylon Galvez
Calvin Abueva is back on the Gilas Pilipinas roster as the team left for Australia yesterday to face the mighty Aussies on Thursday in the second window of the FIBA Asia qualifier for the 2019 World Cup.
Coach Chot Reyes was forced to put the do-it-all forward back in the team following injuries sustained by Troy Rosario and Mac Belo.
The new face in the team is La Salle standout Abu Tratter.
Reyes made the announcement on his Twitter account.
“Finally got go-signal to announce GILAS entourage leaving tom,” said Reyes through @coachot last Sunday. “Jason, Kief, Kev, Jio, RR, Matt, Allein, Gabe, Cal, CBC, Jap, Abu, JMF, Dray.”
Also in the 14-man lineup are Jayson Castro, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Roger Pogoy, Jio Jalalon, Matthew Wright, Allein Maliksi, Gabe Norwood, Carl Bryan Cruz, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo and Andray Blatche.
Reyes also tweeted the reasons why he had to scratch Rosario and Belo, saying: “Troy not given medical clearance yet, while Mac still not 100%”. Belo is recovering from a knee injury while Rosario recently had concussion following a bad fall in a PBA game.
Yesterday, the Gilas coach posted several photos on his Instagarm account with caption: “Last practice before leaving for Melbourne tonight in the books” following the team training at The Upper Deck in Pasig City.
Both the Philippines and Australia carry similar 2-0 cards in Group B of the qualifiers for the World Cup in China next year. The game will be played at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.
Gilas defeated Japan in Tokyo (77-71) and Chinese Taipei here (90-83) while the Aussies downed the Taiwanese (104-66) and Taiwan City and the Japanese on their home turf (82-58).
Reyes understands that it’s not going to be easy taking on Australia, and every member of the national team considers this a test of character and what the team is made off in this Asian qualifier.
“It’s going to be tough playing one of the top teams not only in Asia but in the world,” said Reyes as the Aussies currently rank No. 10 as compared to Gilas, which is in 31st in the FIBA World ranking.