Twelve names, one alternate.
Call it the Tim Cone dozen, the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will be sent to the 19th Asian Games (Asiad), which gathered at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Monday morning.
It is a team with very familiar faces.
Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva, two enigmatic players who were part of the national team in the past, were among the notable names to train with Cone, alongside naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame.
“This is our group. This is what we want to get started with,” Cone told reporters shortly after a session that lasted about two hours and 30 minutes.
Pending a decision by the organizers on a request from the national team to replace two names in the original pool submitted last July 25 to miss the entry deadline, this is who will lead Cone in an attempt to win the Asian to regain glory.
Also present were Jason Perkins, Mo Tautuaa and Stanley Pringle, who strengthened the World Cup squad: June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson and Roger Pogoy.
Chris Newsome and Calvin Oftana rounded out the cast – two of the final three songs from the selection that finished 1-4 at the end of the global showcase.
“This is who we’re expecting,” Cone said. “We still have Perkins and Abueva who are not at 100 percent. They are one hundred percent sure that they are on the team if they get permission (from the local organizers).
They were not on the original list of 60 names submitted. [but] Due to the injuries of Jamie (Malonzo) and Brandon (Ganuelas-Rosser) … we request a ruling on whether we can replace them with Calvin and Perk.
“We don’t really have that position – those two guys –,” said the multi-titled mentor. “We don’t really have that [that] three-, four-man.
And if we can get them, that makes us more versatile because that means we can move Justin into different positions. But without them we will be heavy on watch or heavy on heavy. We have no intermediaries. Calvin and Perk are therefore very important to us.”
Pringle, a crafty playmaker who also plays for Cone’s Barangay Ginebra, is also a stopgap measure.
“Stanley is here as a stand-in – as a thirteenth man in case Calvin and Perk don’t make it,” Cone explained.
Gilas will continue to train with PhilSports until Friday. Cone and his team will move to the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna the next day and stay there until September 21.
The Philippines will begin their campaign against Bahrain on September 26. Gilas is also in the group of Jordan and Thailand. INQ
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