Chot Reyes rues missed chance to form Gilas triple tower

Published October 30, 2022, 11:29 AM

by Reynald I. Magallon

Chot Reyes would love to form possibly the tallest frontline for Gilas Pilipinas in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, but that, sadly, won’t happen anymore after the injury of June Mar Fajardo.

Ange Kouame, Kai Sotto and June Mar Fajardo could have formed a tall frontline for Gilas Pilipinas (FIBA Photo)

Although Fajardo was part of the initial 20-man pool of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the 6-foot-10 center will not make it in time for the November window, ruling out the possibility of forming a tall frontline with 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto and naturalized center Ange Kouame.

Reyes could only imagine how a Gilas roster that features a triple tower of Fajardo, Sotto and Kouame would perform.

“We were really looking forward to having Kai and June Mar play together kasi di pa nangyari yun eh, ang problem na-injure si June Mar eh so that’s one big tease. I was really looking forward to having Kai, June Mar and Ange Kouame together in the team,” said the national team mentor during a pre-recorded interview in Power and Play with Kom Noli Eala on Saturday, Oct. 29.

“Unfortunately that’s not gonna happen now because we have the reality of injuries. Those little things that we haven’t had the opportunity and chance to do yet in the past and that’s the value of this windows yung mga ganung pagkakataon,” he added.

Fajardo hasn’t had the chance to rejoin the national team since the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam. He actually attended the weekly Monday practices before he suffered the throat injury that sidelined him for at least four weeks.

Kouame and Sotto, meanwhile, had played with each other during the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the Olympic Qualifying tournament under then-Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin. Without Fajardo, left in the pack were other big men in Japeth Aguilar and Poy Erram.

Sotto, however, won’t be joining the team until Gilas is already in Lebanon on Nov. 7 due to his commitments to his mother club Adelaide in the NBL Australia.

“Kai of course, we’re not making announcement with Kai until we have his Jordanian visa as well, so we want to reserve that but if it happens, I think his last game is Nov. 6 after that didiretso na siya lilipad sa Jordan,” said Reyes

 
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