THE Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the November chapter of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers would offer a first look of the Nationals’ towering frontline for the future.
According to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio, youngsters Kai Sotto and AJ Edu would be included in the pool later in the year and are considered shoo-ins to the team.
“Nasa window (consideration) pa rin sila,” Panlilio said in explaining why the 7-foot-2 Sotto and 6-foot-10 Edu were not included in the 24-man pool announced last week.
“I was just talking about the first window for February. Meron pang November so the pool there might be different,” added Panlilio. “For the first window lang iyung early names.
Magbabago pa iyan and allowed naman ng FIBA iyung mga changes sa pool members for each window.”
Should Sotto and Edu make it, they would join five-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo in the team when the Nationals take on South Korea on Nov. 27 ending the qualifiers’ first window.
Sotto is currently honing his skills in the United States while Edu is now on the final stages of his recovery from the torn ACL he suffered in last year’s World Under-19 tournament.
“Nag-shu-shootaround na, exercise na, pero non-contact activities pa lang,” related Youth team manager Andrew Teh.
Fajardo’s name was not included in the current pool to give him more respite following a non-stop Gilas tour of duty since 2013.
Panlilio likewise admitted the Asia Cup qualifiers is part of the SBP process to come up with a team for the FIBA World Cup the country is hosting in 2023. He said the squad would be more formidable if another 7-foot teener, Sage Tolentino, could make it.
Getting FIBA clearance through a Philippine passport for the Hawaii-based Tolentino is proving to be a tough task, however.
“Right now, we’re still trying to figure out how to expedite the process of his (Philippine) passport,” said Teh.
“Medyo malalim na kasi (Filipino) lineage niya so how to gather the supporting papers for his passport application, iyun ang challenge,” added Teh.