“There is no such thing as a shoo-in for this team,” said Coach Reyes of the Gilas boys after announcing the 17-man pool; Gilas players excited to show their skills

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Gilas-Pilipinas players are excited after knowing the 17-man pool.

Each member will have to prove their strats in order to make the final cut of 12.

Chot Reyes’ shoo-ins

National coach Chot Reyes said there will be no shoo-ins to the Gilas Pilipinas team bound for the World Cup and Asian Games, saying he expects nothing less than fierce competition for places among the 17 players he named to his training pool on Friday.

“There is no such thing as a shoo-in for this team,” said Reyes, just moments after baring the composition of a deep, talented training pool from where the teams to the World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea will be picked.

Asked if he expects the original members of the Gilas team that finished runner-up to Iran in the last Fiba-Asia championships to fight tooth and nail to keep their places, Reyes said: “I expect nothing less.”

“All the 12 players in the Fiba-Asia team know that. You can call each one of them and they’ll tell you right now that they don’t consider themselves shoo-ins for the team,” added the multi-titled coach.

“Being in the original Gilas team is an advantage, but not a guarantee (of a spot).”

The arrival of fresh faces in Paul Lee, and former Gilas in Marcio Lassiter and Jared Dillinger to the pool is expected to trigger a battle for the backcourt and wing positions, putting under threat the spots of players like LA Tenorio, Jason Castro, Jimmy Alapag, Gary David, Larry Fonacier, Gabe Norwood, and Jeff Chan.

On the other hand, Greg Slaughter and Beau Belga’s return to the pool after being the last cuts in the Fiba-Asia team will mean frontliners like Marc Pingris, June Mar Fajardo, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Japeth Aguilar can’t rest on their laurels when training camp begins.

Reyes said even naturalized player Marcus Douthit can’t rest easy, with NBA veteran Andrey Blatche awaiting the processing of his naturalization papers by Congress.

“Marcus himself has said it: ‘It’s down to me,'” Reyes said.

Players’ Excitement

Each Gilas is very excited to rub elbows again with their teammates and want to prove Gilas supporters why they deserve a slot in the 17-man pool.

Ginebra playmaker LA Tenorio said he can’t wait to get back together with his Gilas Pilipinas teammates and rekindle the “magical camaraderie” which he said had been one of the keys to the team’s successful run in the last Fiba-Asia championships in Manila.

Tenorio and the other members of the Gilas team that finished runner-up to Iran in Manila gather once again on Monday at the PhilSports arena for once-a-week practices as they begin preparations for the Fiba World Cup in Spain six months from now.

Now the former Ateneo star is excited to meet up with the other nationals again – not as adversaries in the PBA but as teammates fighting for one goal.

“‘Im very excited to attend practice again for Gilas saka excited to see my teammates again,” Tenorio told Spin.ph on Sunday after the Gin Kings’ weekend practice.

Tenorio, the 2012 Jones Cup MVP, said the strong bond Gilas players were able to forge during their training camp in Lithuania as well as their series of tuneup matches in New Zealand had a lot to do with the splendid performance they were able to pull off in Manila.

“Everyday we’re together. Memorable sa akin iyun kaya I think successful kami last Fiba Asia kasi iba ang samahan ng team namin,” recalled the veteran guard.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes said the first day of practice will involve a walk through of the national team’s basic plays, though it will also be an opportunity to welcome the three new members of the 17-man pool.

Outside Reyes’ “Fighting 12” that brought the country back to the world championships for the first time since 1978, now part of the pool are Rain or Shine guard Lee, Meralco’s Dillinger and San Miguel Beer marksman Lassiter.

Of the three new faces, Dillinger is actually also a ‘returnee’ having joined Gilas during a tournament in Japan back in 2012.

Reyes said Gilas remains focused on its goal of winning at least two games in the preliminaries in order to get an opportunity to advance to the round of 16 in the Fiba World Cup showpiece.

We will see on who will the final cut and if Blatche naturalization pushes through.

We will also wait on how can the Gilas boys compete with the World’s best.

— with reports from Spin.ph

Ed Umbao

Founder of PhilNews.xyz | co-Founder of PhilNews.ph

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