MANILA – Five Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) stars have been called up for Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
Three of them, namely NLEX's Calvin Oftana and Kevin Alas and NorthPort's Jamie Malonzo, even attended Gilas' first practice session on Monday night at the Meralco Gym in Pasig.
Alas, Oftana and Malonzo joined Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Ray-Ray Parks, Kevin Quiambao, Carl Tamayo and LeBron Lopez, the first locals chosen for the pool, in training.
On the other hand, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) confirmed that Magnolia's Ian Sangalang and Jio Jalalon have been also been called up.
Sangalang and Jalalon are expected to join the Gilas practice session on Tuesday night.
Ginebra head coach Tim Cone finally joined the Gilas training as part of Reyes' coaching staff along with Gilas Youth mentor Josh Reyes and, according to the SBP, provided some inputs as well during the Monday session.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios was also present in the closed-door practice and told the Gilas pool members who were present that the basketball community's support is with them.
The headliners for the Gilas pool, Adelaide 36ers' Kai Sotto and Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson, will arrive later this week and are expected to quickly jump into Gilas practice.
The rest of the Gilas pool might be announced as soon as Wednesday night following the knockout PBA Philippine Cup semifinal game between Meralco and San Miguel.
Chot Reyes earlier said that the PBA players that will backstop Gilas will be chosen among the 10 teams that have been knocked out of contention before the finals.
The Hotshots were eliminated from the semifinals on Sunday night by the TNT Tropang Giga, coincidentally also coached by Reyes.
Country over club
Gilas will first travel to Beirut to battle Lebanon on Aug. 26 (Philippine time) before hosting Saudi Arabia in Pasay on Aug. 29.
However, the fact that the WCQ window falls within the period of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals poses an interesting dilemma for Reyes as he might have to choose whether he stays with TNT for the PBA finals or join Gilas against Lebanon in Beirut.
When asked about it, Reyes simply answered, "Gilas is my priority."
If he indeed chooses to coach Gilas, he could miss at least two games in the championship series, those that will fall at the time he is in Beirut, and possibly three if he sits out the game before Gilas' home stand against Saudi Arabia. (PNA)