MANILA, Philippines – NCAA standouts CJ Perez and Robert Bolick have proven to Gilas Pilipinas that their talents are up for the world stage.
Head coach Yeng Guiao told reporters that both PBA rookies earned their slots with impressive performances in their Spain training camp, completely changing the coaching staff's assessment of how they could fit into the final 12 lineup.
"In Spain, they already made a good account for themselves. Among the coaching staff, we were already thinking that these two guys have the chance to make the [final] 12," said Guiao on Tuesday, August 27, in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Amelie Hotel.
"Before it was one or the other, but after Spain, we were already looking at the possibility of having those two on board."
Bolick became Gilas' unlikely hero in their tuneup game against Congo as he waxed hot for 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with 6 rebounds.
Despite the loss, the former San Beda star led the Philippine national men's basketball team to cap off its Torneo de Malaga stint on a high note as he chalked up 19 points and 7 rebounds.
Bolick's NCAA rival Perez also proved to be a threat as he churned out 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists against Congo, and also chipped in 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists against Ivory Coast in the four-nation tourney.
The Columbian rookie was also in the running for the PBA Commissioner's Cup Best Player of the Conference race, which was eventually handed to Talk 'N Text playmaker Jayson Castro.
"Everyone is deserving. The rookies played well in the games that you've seen and they've played well in the games that you haven't seen – our closed-door games. It helps us a lot in making the decision," clarified the Gilas Pilipinas mentor.
Even without the presence of Gilas' two natural shooters, it was thanks to the efforts of both Bolick and Perez that the Philippines was able to build up well for the tough 2019 FIBA World Cup competition against Italy, Serbia, and Angola.
"For the fact that they've been able to adjust from the PBA to the world-class level says a lot about these two guys. In a short time, they were able to upgrade their style. I have no doubt that they'll do well in the World Cup," said Guiao. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.