by Waylon Galvez
Gilas Pilipinas Coach Chot Reyes tweaked his injury-plagued roster before the Nationals left yesterday for Australia to face the world No. 10 team on Thursday in the second window of the FIBA Asia qualifier for the 2019 World Cup.
With forwards Troy Rosario and Mac Belo still recovering from injuries, Reyes decided to reinsert Calvin Abueva in the 14-man roster, along with former De La Salle University stalwart Abu Tratter.
“Finally got go-signal to announce GILAS entourage leaving tom,” said Reyes through @coachot last Sunday. “Jason, Kief, Kev, Jio, RR, Matt, Allein, Gabe, Cal, CBC, Jap, Abu, JMF, Dray.”
Also in lineup are Jayson Castro, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Roger Pogoy, Jio Jalalon, Matthew Wright, Allein Maliksi, Gabe Norwood, Carl Bryan Cruz, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo and Andray Blatche.
Reyes also tweeted the reasons why he had to scratch Rosario and Belo: “Troy not given medical clearance yet, while Mac still not 100%”. Belo is recovering from a knee injury while Rosario recently had concussion following a hard fall in a PBA game.
Yesterday, the Gilas mentor posted several photos on his Instagarm account with this caption: “Last practice before leaving for Melbourne tonight in the books.”
The Philippines and Australia carry 2-0 cards in Group B of the qualifiers for the World Cup in China next year. The game will be played at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.
The Filipinos defeated Japan in Tokyo (77-71) and Chinese Taipei here (90-83) while the Aussies downed the Taiwanese (104-66) in Taiwan City and the Japanese on their home turf (82-58).
“It’s going to be tough playing one of the top teams not only in Asia but in the world,” said Reyes. The Philippines is pegged at 31st in the latest FIBA World ranking.