WHO does not want to play for flag and country?
Despite the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, University of the Philippines is more than ready and willing to let Fighting Maroons star forward Kobe Paras and brothers Javi and Juan Gomez de Liaño suit up for Gilas Pilipinas.
UP coach Bo Perasol confirmed that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas requested to have Paras and the Gomez de Liaños in the national team training pool for the November window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
It will be the Maroons’ pride if and when the 6-foot-6 Paras and the Gomez de Liaños are named in the final 12-man roster, according to Perasol.
“The SBP already wrote me a letter of request for Kobe (Paras) and the GDL (Gomez de Liaño) brothers,” Perasol told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“If they will be eventually called to serve the country, it will be both an honor for our program and the university,” he added.
Aside from the three UP standouts, reigning NCAA MVP Calvin Oftana of San Beda University and Ateneo guard Dave Ildefonso have hinted they are joining the pool.
Gilas will likely field a squad bannered by collegiate standouts such as big man Isaac Go, guard Rey Suerte, wingman Allyn Bulanadi, and twins Matt and Mike Nieto, all Gilas special draftees last year, and wingman Jaydee Tungcab.
The nationals battle Thailand on Nov. 26; Korea two days later, and Thailand anew on Nov. 30, according to a schedule posted on the FIBA website under a bubble set-up in Manama, Bahrain.
Citing the health perils and uncertainties posed by the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, Korea has reportedly pulled out of the November window.
The SBP has yet to name the members of the pool and who will call the shots for Gilas.
The Filipino dribblers reportedly will hold a bubble training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
The training, however, is on hold pending the greenlight from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
SBP program director Tab Baldwin earlier ruled out PBA players from playing for Gilas in the qualifiers but that is now an option after four teams – Terrafirma, Blackwater, NorthPort, and NLEX – were eliminated in the Philippine Cup bubble in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Under interim coach Mark Dickel, Gilas ripped Indonesia 100-70 last Feb. 23 three days after their match against Thailand last Feb. 20 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum was cancelled due to the pandemic.