Gilas Pilipinas’ latest practice on Monday night turned out to be a reunion of sorts for former FEU standouts.
GlobalPort star point guard Terrence Romeo gladly welcomed fellow Tamaraw Mac Belo who finally joined the weekly training session of Gilas Pilipinas ahead of July’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Moro Lorenzo Gym in Quezon City.
Another FEU standout, gunner RR Pogoy, was also in attendance but failed to suit up as he recuperates from a hamstring injury.
Romeo last played alongside Belo and Pogoy during the UAAP Season 76 men’s basketball tourney in 2013 when he was named MVP while leading the Tamaraws to a Final Four finish.
Both Romeo and Belo actively participated in the different drills mainly conducted by national team coach Tab Baldwin while Pogoy watched from the sidelines during the 2-hour session.
Although he failed to suit up, Pogoy admitted he was very glad to be invited by Gilas Pilipinas and FEU assistant coach Josh Reyes to join the national team training, hoping his stint could help him in good stead.
“Kahit practice player lang, masaya ako sa chance na maka-ensayo sa Gilas,” Pogoy told sports scribes. “Sobrang saya kasi may opportunity na rin maka-ensayo sa kanila. Bihira lang ‘yung ganyan.
“Tingin ko makakapagbigay ‘to ng kumpyansa kasi mga PBA players na rin ang nag-e-ensayo dito.”
Pogoy, who backstopped Belo in FEU’s UAAP men’s title run last year, admitted he’s still clueless why he was invited but he’s eager to make the most out of it.
“Sinabi ni coach Josh, dapat last week, papa-ensayuhin na kami. Hindi ko alam ang dahilan kung bakit nila ako pinapa-ensayo,” he said. “Hindi ko na-imagine magkaroon ng ganitong opportunity.”
Once he fully recovers from his injury, Pogoy will be the 4th amateur player to join the national team training pool alongside fellow Gilas cadets Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer and Belo.
But if there’s one thing Pogoy regrets this early, it’s the lost chance to practice with his long-time idol and fellow Cebuano, Dondon Hontiveros.
“Wala na kasi siya (sa training pool),” said Pogoy of the Alaska gunner who suited up for the Nationals in last year’s FIBA-Asia cage championships but was not called up for the Manila OQT which serves as the backdoor for the 2016 Rio Olympics. — By Jerome Lagunzad