Gilas bares 12-man lineup for Olympic qualifying tourney

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

June 24, 2021, 5:55 pm

MANILA – The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has unveiled the Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Belgrade.

The SBP announced on Thursday that RJ Abarrientos, Balti Baltazar, SJ Belangel, Geo Chiu, Isaac Go, Jordan Heading, Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, Mike Nieto, Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto, and Carl Tamayo will make up the Gilas roster that will vie for one of the four remaining spots in the Tokyo Olympics men's basketball event.

The seven-foot-three Sotto and 6-foot-11 Kouame will lead Gilas' solid frontline.

Coach Tab Baldwin actually placed Sotto and Kouame together as Gilas starters against China in a tune-up match on Wednesday night at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center that ended in a 79-all draw.

Meanwhile, Ramos displayed brilliance during the recently concluded third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Angeles, being Gilas' most consistent player.

On the other hand, Belangel introduced himself to the Asian basketball community by nailing the game-winning triple in Gilas' 81-78 win against South Korea on June 16.

Javi Gomez De Liano, Jaydee Tungcab, and Lebron Lopez, who also got to play during the Angeles bubble, will be taking a backseat for the meantime.

Gilas will be heading to Belgrade on Thursday night ahead of the OQT.

Gilas will first take on host country Serbia on July 1 (Philippine Time) before battling Dominican Republic the day after.

Gilas must finish inside the Top 2 in its group to qualify for the semifinals.

The winner of the Belgrade OQT will join the other OQT champs in completing the cast for the Tokyo Olympics men's basketball event. (PNA)