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SBP remains upbeat

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Injuries plaguing the Gilas Pilipinas pool in training for the Manila FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament this July may have triggered tremors of concern to those involved in forming the team, but the local organizing committee under Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan is holding steadfast.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, the OQT event director, said preparation for the Olympic qualifier is going full speed and labeled the injury reports involving Greg Slaughter and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser as a “temporary setback.”

“It’s unfortunate that we’re having injuries but we have to hope for the best,” Barrios said during a break in yesterday’s LOC meeting at the SBP office in Pasig. “We have a deep pool of talents and we’re confident coach Tab [Baldwin] can make the best out of the situation.”

Earlier reports indicated that Slaughter, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s 7-foot center, and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser of Talk ‘N Text had been stricken off the pool due to similar ankle injuries, later confirmed by the Philippine team coaching staff.

Now a stronger temblor looks to rock the Nationals even more with Rain or Shine star playmaker Paul Lee possibly begging off as well due to fluid in his left knee.

Ganuelas-Rosser underwent surgery to his foot while Slaughter, one-fourth of the Philippine team’s projected quadruple ceiling with June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar and Andray Blatche, will have one to remove “ligaments in his ankle.”

Lee, who won his first PBA championship recently after Rain or Shine beat Alaska, 4-2, in the Commissioner’s Cup championship series where he was named Finals MVP, was to sit down with Baldwin in practice last night at the Meralco gym to appraise the American mentor of his medical condition.

Extraction will be needed to drain the fluid on Lee’s knee, with rest and therapy to follow for the next four weeks.

While Slaughter and Ganuelas-Rosser may have been lost for the OQT set July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena, Barrios isn’t giving up on Lee.

“Hopefully, Paul is healthy enough to join the training program as soon as he gets some rest and treatment for his knee,” Barrios said.

The former PBA commissioner bared preparation for the OQT hosting is “ongoing per schedule” and that “we are looking forward to a successful event.”

The team, Barrios said, is also right on track.

“Coach Tab has crafted a training program with emphasis on playing the kind of games we will face in the OQT,” he said. “That’s why they’re going to Europe and, in fact, play teams like Turkey and Canada, which are in our group but on the other side, precisely to fully prepare for them.”

Barrios also brushed aside suggestions that the recent injuries dampened the hosting preparation as a consequence.

“I don’t want to use that word,” he said. “I’d like to think that perhaps this is just a temporary setback. if you can call it that. But we should be able to meet up to the challenge with the high expectations of our countrymen.

All of our players naman will go all out and play hurt, if necessary, as they have done before in front of our countrymen in the FIBA Asia Championship where a hurting Marc Pingris excelled at both ends of the court in the Korea game.”