With Gilas cadet lacking in size, coach Nash Racela will be putting more emphasis on shooting and an up-tempo style as the Philippines compete in the South East Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Cup starting this May 22 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Top amateur standout Kiefer Ravena, along with Tropang TNT rookie big man Moala Tautuaa and former La Salle slotman Arnold Van Opstal are skipping the tournament for various reasons.
Ravena is currently in the US to continue his personal training, while Tautuaa, last year’s top PBA rookie pick, is on vacation. Van Opstal is also out of the country.
Without the 3, Racela said Gilas cadet will be relying more on Mac Belo, the 2016 PBA Aspirants Cup MVP, along with Mike Tolomia, Russell Escoto and Roger Pogoy — all key members of the 2015 UAAP men’s champion Far Eastern University.
Also included in the cadet roster are FEU’s Raymar Jose and young big man Ken Holmqvist.
Backstopping Belo and Co. are Kevin Ferrer, University of Santo Tomas’ outgoing wingman, former Ateneo gunner Von Pessumal and Arellano playmaker Jio Jalalon.
“Yes, we’re concerned because kulang nga tayo sa ceiling. We’re particularly small at the 4 and 5 positions but then, we have to make do with what we have,” Racela told FOX Sports before the team’s practice at the Meralco gym on Tuesday night.
Tropang TNT rookie Troy Rosario has been loaned to Gilas cadet, along with Blackwater rookie Almond Vosotros. The 2 played big roles for the cadet during the Philippines’ 11th straight championship in Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball last year in Singapore.
Racela said the 6-foot-5 Rosario, who has played more as a small forward for TNT in the Commissioner’s Cup, is expected to man the slot.
Gilas cadet kicks off its campaign against Malaysia on May 22, Singapore on May 24, 2015 SEA Games runner-up Indonesia (May 25), before closing its round-robin assignment against Thailand (May 26).
The top 2 teams then play in the gold medal game on May 27, though both countries will already earn spots for the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge set in Iran this September. – By Richard Dy
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