MANILA, Philippines – Another Gilas Pilipinas mainstay has begged off.
Veteran guard Matthew Wright pulled out from the national team pool for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers as he undergoes rehabilitation due to ankle issues.
Missing Gilas Pilipinas' first 5 practice days, Wright showed up at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City to tell program director Tab Baldwin his situation.
"[Wright] talked to coach Tab and he said that he wanted to join, but unfortunately, he has to rehab his ankle so he wouldn't make it," said team manager Gabby Cui.
His absence leaves the national team without 4 PBA players from its initial 24-man pool with Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar, and Mac Belo withdrawing.
Also, Ray Parks and Justine Baltazar have yet to report to the team since it started gearing up for its home game against Thailand on February 20 and its road game against Indonesia on February 23.
"Justine, we're still talking to him. Initially, he said he wanted to help, but as of now, we're still waiting," said Cui.
Taking up the spot left by Wright is Javee Mocon, who willingly showed up at practice for back-to-back days since he was included to the pool on Monday.
Meanwhile, new additions Vic Manuel and Abu Tratter are set to join Gilas Pilipinas by the end of the week after wrapping up their team building with Alaska.
"[Despite] the short notice, they still want to help our Gilas Pilipinas so we're looking forward to them being here and helping out," Cui said.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.