By Jonas Terrado
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said the inclusion of Calvin “The Beast” Abueva to the 14-man pool for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers which starts tomorrow was a combination of necessity and his desire to gain a spot for matches against Australia and Japan.
Reyes had earlier dropped the Alaska star from the pool after failing to show up in Gilas’ first three practices to deal with personal problems. But Abueva’s near-perfect attendance since prompted the national team mentor to have a change of heart.
“In spite of the fact that alam ni Calvin na hindi siya makakasama sa second window, panay pa rin ang punta niya sa practice,” Reyes said in Monday’s edition of SportsCenter Philippines on TV5. “Wala kang maririnig sa kanya, he came in and he was very committed.
“Napaiyak talaga si Calvin sa tuwa nang malaman niya yun, gustong-gusto niya talaga makasama (sa pool),” added Reyes.
There were earlier hints that Abueva would make his way back to the pool when last week’s daily practices began, though Reyes, who probably didn’t want to pre-empt things, quickly shut down that possibility.
Reyes made things official late Sunday, with Abueva part of the pool that included naturalized player Andray Blatche, PBA stars Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena, Japeth Aguilar, RR Pogoy, Gabe Norwood, Matthew Wright, Carl Bryan Cruz, Kevin Alas, Allein Maliksi and Jio Jalalon and amateur Abu Tratter.
Troy Rosario and Mac Belo won’t be seeing action for tomorrow’s Gilas faceoff with Australia in Melbourne and Sunday’s home match with Japan at the Mall of Asia Arena because of injuries while Raymond Almazan reportedly opted to skip the second window.
“Some of the original guys that we had in mind got injured like Mac Belo (and) Troy Rosario. Then we all know that Raymond Almazan stopped coming to practices, so we had to drop him as well,” said Reyes.
Gilas needs just one win from this latest window to advance to the next phase of the qualifiers. The Filipinos share the lead with the Aussies at 2-0 in Group B.