Young Gilas Pilipinas squad off to Chinese Taipei for Jones Cup bid
THE FIRST step to the World Cup in China will be taken Friday when Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 flies out to Chinese Taipei for the 39th edition of the Jones Cup Invitational as coach Chot Reyes takes with him a very young team that will be the face of Team Philippines in the future.
Members of the Gilas Cadet program, a hardy bunch of professional rookies now enjoying the good life, will don the country’s tri-colors in the multi-nation event the Philippines will try to win for the sixth time.
RR Pogoy, Jio Jalalon and Matthew Wright, who played with PBA superstars in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association tournament Gilas ruled with ease two months ago, will play their second straight international tournament together with amateur stars Keifer Ravena, Fil-German Christian Standhardinger and Kobe Paras.
This tournament will be the first full event that the country will see Paras, the high-leaping son of PBA legend Benjie Paras who is seen by many as one who could dominate the pro league when his time to join the PBA comes.
“Kiefer, Kobe and Christian will have no problems adjusting to the PBA (brand of play),” Reyes told the Inquirer in a text message on Thursday morning when asked how talented his national team rookies are.
Gilas will be using the Jones Cup to get the momentum it needs for two more prestigious events before playing in the World Cup Qualifying proper starting November.
“The Jones Cup preparations are going well,” Reyes said. “(Coaching staff is) focusing on the new guys understanding the offense and knowing how to play with each other.”
Mike Myers has been tapped as the team’s lone import as the Filipinos open up against a club team from Canada at 3 p.m. on Saturday, the first of nine straight games. Gilas’ schedule will wind up against Iran on July 23, and it could likely be the match for the title.
Last year, with a predominantly import-laden team led by NBA veteran Al Thornton, the Philippines won the Jones Cup via a sweep. Gilas last won this event in 2013, when Reyes became the first Filipino coach to triumph.
Incidentally, Reyes has been in the United States in the past few days to attend to some business matters and will fly in to Taipei from there, just in time to be with the team.
Mac Belo, Carl Bryan Cruz, Ed Daquioag, Kevin Ferrer, Fonzo Gotladera, Reymar Jose, Bobby Ray Parks, Von Pessumal, Mike Tolomia and Almond Vosotros are the other members of the team.
Reyes has a 16-man lineup but can only use 12 per game.
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