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Gilas hopes to gain from Jones Cup stint

The young players on the Gilas Pilipinas pool hope to benefit from the challenge of facing bigger opponents in the William Jones Cup which starts Saturday in Taiwan.

The annual tournament is the first step in the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ efforts to develop the squad composed of PBA rookies and amateur standouts with crucial international tournaments lined up in the next few months.

“This is the first team that we’ll be working on,” said SBP Vice Chairman Robbie Puno during the media briefing at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Pasig City, ahead of the national team’s departure for the Taiwanese capital Taipei tomorrow.

A total of 17 players are in the Jones Cup roster, including PBA rookie and Gilas cadet members Mac Belo, RR Pogoy, Kevin Ferrer, Jio Jalalon, Matt Wright, Mike Tolomia, Ed Daquioag, Carl Bryan Cruz, Von Pessumal, and Fonso Gotladera.

Joining them are amateur stalwarts Kiefer Ravena, Kobe Paras, Raymar Jose and Christian Standhardinger, ex-pro Almond Vosotros and American reinforcement Mike Myers. Ray-Ray Parks, a late addition, completes the national team for the Jones Cup.

Some of the players were likewise included to the 24-man squad of Gilas mentor Chot Reyes for the FIBA Asia Cup next month in Lebanon.

Also in the calendar of the national team this year are next month’s Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the first ever FIBA home-and-away tourney in November.

The Jones Cup is expected to be tough considering that the national team will compete against Canada, New Zealand, Lithuania, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Iraq, but team manager Butch Antonio – quoting Reyes – said that Gilas will try to defend the Jones Cup title.