After coming away with a monumental sweep of their games in the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga, the Gilas Pilipinas must now shift their attention to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Serbia, which commences on June 29 to July 4 in Belgrade.
The young guns of Gilas have their work cut out for them as they take on the hosts, Serbia, and then, the Dominican Republic. They need to finish in the top two to keep their hopes alive for the last ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.
Still, as what they’ve shown in their recent games, which culminated in a thrilling 82-77 victory over South Korea on Sunday—their second win over their bitter rivals this week—these youngsters are capable of big things.
However, with the upcoming tournament not allowing any changes in the roster once the competition starts, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin announced that the pool of players that competed in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers would be comprising the pool from which they would choose the roster for the OQT.
"The players that we have here in this bubble are the players that will go to Serbia," Baldwin said. "I think we'll be taking either 12 or 13 players. We haven't made a final decision on that yet. We'll have to leave one or two behind, but the 12 that we select to play will be taken from this group here,"
This development will rule out the addition of former two-time CESAFI MVP Rey Anthony Suerte, who had to sit out the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers after injuring his ankle in practice. The same goes for Dave Ildefonso and Matt Nieto who also suffered different injuries in the build-up for the Clark tournament.
Almost assured of roster spots are Angelo Kouame, 7-foot-3 center Kai Sotto and versatile wingman Dwight Ramos.
Cebuano forward Carl Tamayo is also in contention for one of the roster spots but his availability depends on how quickly he can recover from the ankle sprain he suffered in the game versus Indonesia.
The Gilas are taking the Monday off but they’ll be returning back to practice on Tuesday. (JNP)