Coach Yeng Guiao said the selection of Gilas Pilipinas’ 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup was based on a mixture of cohesion and circumstances during preparation that began more than two months ago.
Veteran campaigners Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca and Raymond Almazan were among the players chosen to represent the country for the global competition which starts Saturday in China.
Also making the cut were Kiefer Ravena, who only had one tune-up match after his 18-month FIBA suspension ended days earlier, and PBA rookies CJ Perez and Robert Bolick while injured players Matthew Wright and Poy Erram and Beau Belga were left off the roster.
“I based my decision from what I saw from the first day of Gilas practice,” Guiao said after Sunday’s 85-75 loss to the Adelaide 36ers at the Meralco Gym.
“Nagfactor din yung health ng players, nagfactor din yung cohesion that they provide with the rest of the team,” added Guiao.
(The health of the players and the cohesion they provide with the rest of the team also factored in our decision.)
Many saw Wright as a shoo-in with his ability to hit the outside shots coupled with the need to fill in the absence of Marcio Lassiter, who sprained his left MCL while playing for San Miguel Beer in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But Wright suffered a peroneal tendon strain on his right ankle during last week’s practice and missed the two tune-up games against the Australian club.
Fajardo, Pogoy and Rosario are still trying to catch up with their teammates after missing the Spain camp and weeks of practices due to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, though Guiao is far from concern.
“It’s going to take a little bit more time but I feel when we get to China, they’ll be ready,” Guiao said.
Ravena made an impression in his return, scoring 11 points in 17 minutes and Guiao sees a lot of valuable in the sophomore guard.
“It’s his first game but it was already impressive,” Guiao said. “He will still get better. And the good thing about Kiefer is he’s not just contributing on the floor, he also contributes off the floor. Even as young as he is, he is well-respected and considered as a leader of this team already.”