Former two-time Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) Most Valuable Player Rey Anthony Suerte made the final cut of the 12-man roster that will compete in the first of a two-game set against Thailand in the second window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain.
Joining Suerte on the squad are special Gilas draftees Isaac Go, Mike and Matt Nieto as well as Kobe Paras, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, Justine Baltazar, Dwight Ramos, Will Navarro, Dave Ildefonso and Kemark Cariño.
Set aside for the first game are Calvin Oftana, Jaydee Tungcab and the injured Allyn Bulanadi.
Suerte, who hails from Monkayo, admitted that there is a fair amount of pressure on him and the rest of the group considering their relative lack of experience in international competitions.
“There’s pressure because we are all young. There are only a few of us who have played in international games but we need to adjust at this level,” said Suerte, who led UV to three titles in the Cesafi before making his way to the University of the East.
Suerte, though, added that there is no need for any of them to assume any starring roles but rather, just the role they are specifically assigned with by head coach Jong Uichico and program head Tab Baldwin.
“There are a lot of talented players in this pool and we know that all have to make adjustments so that we can play the roles that we are given,” said Suerte.
Most of all, Suerte relayed that he is just ecstatic to be playing basketball once again after spending most of the year away from the game because of the global health crisis.
“I’m just very happy and excited to be playing basketball once again. I can’t put into words how happy I am to play for the Philippines.” (JNP)