New faces join Gilas in Laguna training

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    NATIONAL team training pool members reported to duty anew last Monday— along with some new faces.

    The all-amateur Gilas side arrived at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna to toughen up for two coming international tourneys.

    Ateneo High School standout LeBron Lopez, the Blue Eagles’ SJ Belangel, Gian Mamuyac, Forthsky Padrigao, Josh Lazaro, Geo Chiu, Troy Mallillin, Jason Credo, and Kyle Ong led the new additions to the pool.

    Former Nazareth School of National University star Carl Tamayo, who moved to University of the Philippines last year, and incoming Far Eastern University guard RJ Abarrientos complete the 11 new recruits.

    Returning players from the last leg of the qualifiers are Ange Kouame, a naturalized player candidate; Dwight Ramos, Dave Ildefonso, and Chris Koon, who served as practice player in the second window.

    Gilas 2019 special draftees Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, and twins Matt and Mike Nieto are also expected to boost the pool.

    Ditto with Jordan Heading, William Navarro, Tzaddy Rangel, and Jaydee Tungcab, who were tabbed in last Sunday’s special Gilas draft.

    The players underwent swab testing and are on mandatory quarantine. Once they are cleared, the nationals will hit the ground running.

    A slew of other amateurs such as Javi Gomez de Liaño, Kemark Cariño, Kevin Quiambao and Raven Cortez were also reportedly invited but begged off due to academics.

    Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin, coaches Jong Uichico, Boyet Fernandez, Sandy Arespacochaga, Gabby Severino, Caloy Garcia, Alton Lister, and Sandro Soriano are looking over the bubble camp.

    The Philippine five is training its sights on the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers tentatively set from June 14 to 20 in Clark.

    Gilas will also try to clinch a Tokyo Games slot in the Olympic qualifying tournament from June 29 to July 4 in Belgrade, Serbia.

    The SBP initially considered fielding Gilas as a guest team in the PBA 46th season but scrapped the plan last Friday.

    With a 3-0 card in Group A, Gilas was set to clash with South Korea last Feb. 18, a reset of their initial match that was postponed in the second window in Manama last November and was also to play Indonesia last Feb. 20 and then South Korea last Feb. 22 anew.