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LA, Beast out

Gilas: Last cut is the deepest

Tab Baldwin

Tab Baldwin

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin opted for a ‘tall’ squad last night as he named his Final 12 players who will seek a spot in the Rio Games via the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) on July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

As expected, naturalized player Andray Blatche and Jayson Castro – a two-time Mythical Five member in the FIBA Asia – were picked to this 4.0 version of Gilas that will play in the OQT.

Joining the two are Marc Pingris, Ranidel de Ocampo, June Mar Fajardo, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, Terrence Romeo, Ryan Reyes, Troy Rosario and Ray Parks Jr.

Of the 12 players chosen, Parks, Rosario and Reyes are new to the Gilas program, while cut from the team are veteran guard LA Tenorio and Calvin Abueva, who both played in past Gilas teams.

By tapping the 6-foot-7 Rosario and the 6-foot-2 Reyes – over the 6-foot-2 Abueva and the 5-foot-8 Tenorio – it was evident Baldwin wants ceiling in their respective positions since the national team will be up against much taller opponents in the qualifier.

“The coaching staff obviously put a lot of premium in height and in his position, medyo alanganin si Calvin,” said Chot Reyes, former Gilas coach and now the president of Media 5.

The national team is in Group B of the OQT with France and New Zealand, while Group A has Turkey, Canada and Senegal. The top two from each group will play in the crossover semifinals.

The top two will fight for the lone Olympic spot.

The announcement was held at the TV5 office on Reliance St. in Mandaluyong City and attended by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas officials led by its president Manny V. Pangilinan.

Former Gilas team captain Jimmy Alapag announced the names on the Finals 12 in three batches (by four).

Prior to the announcement, Baldwin was interviewed vie teleconference but was not available for comment after the announcement was made since the national team was set to play China in a pocket tournament in Bologna, Italy.

“We’re very pleased with the effort of the players. There’s no question they did a great job,” said Baldwin.

“These are the experiences that we have to go through to achieve that. It’s a long and tough process, but if you have the right people we’ll succeed.

“Unfortunately, you can’t squeeze 14 players to the 12-man team. In the end we have to go to a process,” added Baldwin, who mentioned that he already spoke to the two players cut from the team.

As for Pangilinan, he thanked the sacrifices made by the players – particularly Abueva and Tenorio.