By Jerome Lagunzad
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes is tempering his expectations on touted Fil-Am forward Troy Rike, an intriguing member of his “#23for23” wishlist who has started to buckle down to work with his fellow national team hopefuls.
While much of the attention was given to embattled NLEX rookie Kiefer Ravena who was slapped with an 18-month suspension by FIBA in violation of its anti-doping policy, the 6-foot-7 Rike, 22, flew in to the country with little fanfare last Monday and immediately joined the Nationals’ training session at the Meralco gym.
A current member of the Wake Forest University men’s basketball program which has produced the likes of San Antonio Spurs great Tim Duncan and current Houston Rockets star Chris Paul, Rike is considered by many as one of the top Fil-foreign prospects who could don the country’s tricolors in the FIBA World Cup in 2023.
But Reyes is not one to put much pressure on the latest addition to the Gilas program.
“Too early to tell,” was his curt reply to Tempo-Manila Bulletin yesterday.
Among those who welcomed Rike to the fold were amateur star Kobe Paras, Ateneo standouts Thirdy Ravena, Matt Nieto and Kai Sotto, Arvin Tolentino and Kenneth Tuffin of Far Eastern University, National University product J-Jay Alejandro, University of the Philippines’ Ricci Rivero and his elder brother Prince.
“He will definitely help the program,” said Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio of Rike, who has the chance to prove his true worth on Friday when the Nationals take on Emilio Aguinaldo College in the Filoil Preseason Cup.
For his part, Rike, whose mother is a Filipina, is just relishing the opportunity on hand.