Former USP-F cager being eyed for PH national team
Another Cesafi product, former University of Southern Philippines-Foundation (USP-F) and current Letran Knights center Jomari Sollano, is being eyed to join the new Gilas Pilipinas basketball team that will represent the country in international meets starting next year.
An unassuming 6-foot-4 center who hit the biggest shot for Letran last season — a midrange jumper that helped clinch the NCAA championship for the Knights in the intensely fought Game 3 against San Beda — Sollano is expected to be tapped to be part of the Gilas squad that is being led by some of the best amateur players in the land headed by Kiefer Ravena, Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia and another Cebuano, Talisay-native Roger Pogoy.
Sollano confirmed to Cebu Daily News that he has had initial meetings with the management team of the Gilas although no contract has been tendered yet.
“I’m excited but at the same time, I’m feeling nervous as well because this is the first time that I’ll be part of such high-level basketball. I’ll be carrying the name of the country now. This is an incredible opportunity and this will help me greatly in my development,” Sollano said. “All college players dream of making it to the Gilas Cadets and if this really pushes through, this will only motivate me more to work harder. I won’t be carrying USP-F or Letran but the Philippines across my chest. Right now, I have no idea how much pressure there is in playing for the country so that’s why I’m just preparing myself for that time.”
Joph Cleopas, a former assistant coach with USP-F who has worked with Sollano, and now an assistant with San Beda and the Batang Gilas, said that the quiet big man is ripe with potential.
“He is matured. He’s bulkier now compared to last year but at the same time, he has remained as humble as he was before. Letran is really depending on him now. He’s the Knights’ main guy in the low post area,” assessed Cleopas of his former ward.
A new Gilas team is being formed by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) in light of Fiba’s changes to the qualifying tournament’s format for the 2019 World Cup of Basketball in China. Instead of staging the usual qualifying tournament in one area, Fiba will now adopt a home-and-away format.
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