Gilas Pilipinas’ preparation for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers is facing a dilemma over the injuries sustained by two TNT players who are prime candidates to play in this month’s window at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
RR Pogoy missed TNT’s 96-93 loss to Magnolia Pambansang Manok on Friday, Feb. 11 due to a strained calf while Erram left the contest in the second quarter after hurting his lower back.
Pogoy and Erram have been considered by coach Chot Reyes as shoo-ins for the February window which will see the national squad field put remnants of the Gilas pool, TNT and players from Japan’s B.League in one group.
Both players are expected to be one of the important figures for the qualifiers which will see Gilas face South Korea twice plus matches with New Zealand and India on Feb. 24 to 28.
Reyes opted to have a few of his TNT players for the qualifiers in order to speed up the cohesion for the coming window.
Pogoy got hurt during the TNT-Gilas practice which forced him to watch the PBA Governors’ Cup resumption on the bench.
Erram had to be helped by his teammates back to the bench with 3:40 to go, seconds after he apparently got hurt while defending a driving Mike Harris of Magnolia.
Troy Rosario, also a strong candidate to take part in the FIBA window, saw action for the first time this conference but was limited to one point, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 17 minutes.
Tropang Giga guard Kib Montalbo may have boosted his chances for inclusion after posting eight points aside from his pesky defending against his Hotshots counterparts.
Rookie guard Mikey Williams is not in consideration since he is only eligible to play for Gilas as a naturalized player, a spot already taken by 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame.
The game was the first of a rough stretch for TNT in the next seven games as part of arrangements to allow the team to lend its players for Gilas.
TNT will be back on Sunday against Phoenix before facing San Miguel Beer on Feb. 16 and Barangay Ginebra on Feb. 18.