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MANILA, Philippines – The newest era of Gilas Pilipinas basketball continues to be one of difficult transition as the program is currently embroiled in a confusing roster pool issue mere days before the September 23 opening of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
Because of two conflicting lists – one with 60 players and a newer one with 37 – submitted to the Asiad organizers, four players tapped by returning national team head coach Tim Cone are in danger of being ruled ineligible, namely Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins, Terrence Romeo, and Mo Tautuaa.
ASIAN GAMES | LOOK:— Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) September 19, 2023
Here are the two Gilas Pilipinas lists submitted to the Asian Games organizers.
The numbered list of 37 is the newer one, essentially overruling the older 60-man pool.
The SBP is mum on who submitted the new list. pic.twitter.com/Am96FgBf5U
As a last-ditch appeal by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) awaits final judgment from Hangzhou, a pertinent question may be asked: Whose fault is it this time?
Is it Cone for trying to include Abueva and Perkins despite not being in the original 60? Is it the SBP brass for not double-checking the newer 37-man pool that doesn’t have Romeo and Tautuaa?
Is it former head coach Chot Reyes who made the initial list littered with college and overseas players carrying mother team schedule conflicts during the Asian Games?
The SBP’s simple answer: It doesn’t matter.
“We’re just working with what we have now. I don’t want to go back because we’re already here, and we’re trying our very best to form a team that could compete,” said SBP president Al Panlilio in a press conference at the PBA office in Quezon City on Tuesday, September 19.
“I remember [Chot] being really upset about having to do [the list] at that point [in May]. I wasn’t involved in the making of the [60-man] list,” Cone added.
“We assumed – really, never assume anything – but we assumed that it was the list we were working with. No Abueva, no Perkins, so we asked for those two who were not yet on that list. It just happened five days ago that a [37-man] list came up and we were all surprised there was another list out there.”
New Gilas team manager Alfrancis Chua with Cone, Panlilio, and other national team stakeholders then scrambled to make late-night calls just last Monday, August 18, to four new additions who all immediately committed to duty: Chris Ross, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino, and CJ Perez.
Veteran star Marcio Lassiter was also called in late, but this time to replace fellow long-range gunner RR Pogoy, who begged off due to injury.
“The bottom line is this is what we have. This is what we have to deal with, so we’re just going to move forward with what’s in front of us and deal with that,” Cone continued.
“Where that [37-man] list came from, we have no bearing at this point. We just have to deal with it.”
As of posting, all nine players – the five new replacements and the four now-doubtful picks – are still practicing at the Inspire Academy in Calamba, Laguna while awaiting the Asiad organizers’ final decision, which Chua and Cone say will come in one to two days.
Per the Gilas brass, the four original selections are still “Plan A” alongside Lassiter, which means the four new replacements – tabbed “Plan B” – will be sent back home in the slim likelihood that the last-minute appeal is approved.
Regardless of China’s final call, the national team will be ready with a full roster for Hangzhou – the lone certainty in this messy affair so far. – Rappler.com