Gilas Pilipinas is looking at a few players to boost the national team which has been plagued with injuries since the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The Filipinos played without naturalized big man Ange Kouame in a lopsided loss against New Zealand while Dave Ildefonso sat out on Gilas’ home win against India on Sunday, July 3, leaving the team with two more slots to fill in with Kai Sotto unlikely to don the tri-colors in the FIBA Asia Cup 2022 which will kick off next week in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Stand-in head coach Nenad Vucinic mentioned the names of B.League imports Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks as among the players they hope to add to the current crop that already has Kiefer Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Rhenz Abando, SJ Belangel and RJ Abarrientos, among others.
“We played with 10 players because Dave Ildefonso is out, he will not go to the Asia Cup. Right now, I’m not sure if we are going to have more than 10 players. We are hoping to have Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks in the team. It’s good to have a full 12,” said Vucinic in the aftermath of its 79-63 victory over India on Sunday.
However, Vucinic wanted to address the need for a big man heading to the Asia Cup where they will face New Zealand, India and Lebanon in the group stage.
Geo Chiu is the only legitimate center in Gilas’ current lineup with Will Navarro and Carl Tamayo sliding to the four-spot from time to time to help in manning the paint.
“We are in a situation that we are playing unbalanced as a team. We don’t really have enough size, enough big guys that we can rotate. We are playing William Navarro out of position as a big guy so it is difficult because of the composition of the team,” added Vucinic.
“We have played the same lineup for a month as well and we have to continue to find ways to make up for the lack of size. That has to go to the defensive end,” he furthered.
In a separate interview, Gilas Pilipinas program director Chot Reyes revealed that the possibility of tapping Kai Sotto to fill the void has been ruled out. According to the national team mentor, Gilas has reached out to Sotto’s camp but hasn’t received a word yet from the handlers of the 7-foot-3 center.
With Sotto not available, Reyes is mulling the possibility of tapping the services of TNT big men Poy Erram and Kelly Williams. The Tropang Giga will wrap up their PBA Philippine Cup elimination assignments on July 10, making the two available in time for the regional tilt.