By Ernest Hernandez
Gilas Pilipinas held its third practice Monday night with head coach Chot Reyes emphasizing on attendance and dedication.
“It is going to be a process like I said, from the start, we wanted to get them in here but I talked to the players earlier and reminded the players that the entire program is about players desire to be here,” said Reyes. “One of the big reasons why we are successful is because we have players who want to be here and put in the effort, commitment and dedication.”
Reyes dropped a bombshell when he cut two veteran players in Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan. The two will not be part of the squad competing for the second leg of the FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers that will be held next month. Both have not attended any of the three practices for the year.
“That is the reason why we are dropping Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan for the second window because they haven’t shown up,” Reyes explained.
“It is already our third practice at hindi pa sila nagpapakita. So it is simply a matter of disinterest. I guess they are not interested and we have to move on, we can’t wait for those guys,” he added.
Among the veteran players present included June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Kiefer Ravena, Troy Rosario, Kevin Alas, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo and RR Pogoy. Jayson Castro and Carl Bryan Cruz were around but did not participate in drills.
Reyes also gave an update on who was absent during the recent practice.
“Aside from those two (Abueva and Almazan), we don’t know where Matthew Wright is. Allein (Maliksi) is attending a wedding in Australia and Japeth (Aguilar) had a previous function that we had exclusive for the interview.”
Citing their laziness to attend practice, Reyes felt that they lacked the dedication for the Gilas Progam.
“Other than that, it is just an issue of Calvin and Raymond. If they don’t want to be part of this program, that is the reason why we are dropping them for the second window.”
Gilas practices started at 8 pm and finished in an hour. Assistant Coaches Josh Reyes, Jong Uichico and Jimmy Alapag just ran the dribble drive offense to help the players familiarize themselves. Aside from that, there were no scrimmages or extensive practices that could break a sweat.
“It is still very early days, the Mondays-only practice—nakikita niyo naman it is very light. So, the guys who have a game at the D-League tomorrow or have a game in the PBA last night have no reason to be here. The only reason they are not here is that they don’t want to be here,” said Reyes.
“You saw the Ateneo guys, I think they had a game at the D-League today and they rushed here. So, it is a question of dedication and desire. Kung gusto mo maraming paraan, kung ayaw mo, madaming dahilan. That’s the reason why we are doing these once-a-week practices, we want to see who are the people that want to be here and that is the big part of what we are looking for.”
Also, Team Manager Butch Antonio gave an update on the status of those players who were not present during the practice.
“Calvin mentioned that he has a hamstring injury. For Raymond, I’m not sure. Sinabi sa akin kanina that he was trying to call me. I didn’t get naman any call,” said Antonio. “Matt (Wright’s) not feeling well, but OK lang yan. Matt’s been here the past two practices naman eh. Yung dalawa lang talaga.”