MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas Chot Reyes said that RJ Abarrientos and SJ Belangel—two Filipino talents plying their trade in South Korea—remain an integral part of the national team program.
“All of (former) pool members are on our radar,” he said in web-radio interview with Philippine Sports Commissioner chair Noli Eala on Saturday.
Abarrientos and Belangel, two varsity stars who decided to forgo their remaining years of eligibility in the UAAP, have been thriving in the Korea Basketball League. This has prompted several fans online to question why the pair were not included in the pool for the fifth window of the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
“For now, we want to go take a look at the guys we have currently—the guys practicing now,” he added.
Gilas Pilipinas has been practicing weekly, and many of the attendees are from the PBA. There are also a few coming from the collegiate ranks.
The talent pool, which was released by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas late Friday night, also featured players now based in Japan.
“We all know what RJ can do, what SJ can do—all those guys. It’s just the time to take a look at the others. Personally, I’ve only had two games with Scottie (Thompson). Now we’re having CJ (Perez) in the mix as well. When you do that, some guys will have to take a backseat in the meantime,” he said.
“As much as we want to, we can’t afford to have everyone on the list,” he said.
The Philippines, 3-3 in the World Cup qualifiers, is set to figure in a pair of road games. The Nationals battle Jordan in Amman on Nov. 10 (midnight of Nov. 11 in Manila time), and then play Saudi Arabia anew in Jeddah three days later.
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