The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) officially revealed the 16-man pool for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers to be held in Manama, Bahrain this month.
Joining pool mainstays Isaac Go, Allyn Bulanadi, Rey Suerte, Matt Nieto, and Mike Nieto are Kobe Paras, Juan Gomez de Liano, Javi Gomez de Liano, Justin Baltazar, Dave Ildefonso, Will Navarro, Kenmark Carino, Calvin Oftana, Jaydee Tungcab, Dwight Ramos, and naturalization prospect Angelo Kouame.
"We appreciate the commitment of all of these young athletes in joining our training camp. They have a lot of work to do in a short period of time but we're confident they'll all be up to the task," said SBP President Al Panlilio. "I'm sure they're all excited to be on the court again after being away from basketball for so long."
The SBP decided not to invite PBA players for this FIBA window even if some of them have become available after their teams exited the PBA Bubble.
"The SBP has always wanted to start forming a core of younger players in preparation for 2023," explained Panlilio. "We've been able to inject a couple of young players in different FIBA windows but this event gives us a unique opportunity to test out a lot of young players to see how well they fit into the program."
Panlilio added that there's no doubt that the PBA remains to be an important partner for the SBP and that the inclusion of PBA players in future teams is still crucial to the success of the Gilas Pilipinas Men's Team.
"The best talents are in the PBA and we'll continue working closely with them but, for this window, we also have to take into consideration what the PBA players went through," said Panlilio. "They were apart from their families for at least six weeks and had to go through a grueling schedule. We know some of them are willing to play for flag and country and we appreciate them reaching out to us but it's important that they give themselves time to recover physically and mentally."
Although his naturalization is not final yet, Kouame was added to the pool to jump start the process of him getting to know the system and getting familiarized with his teammates.
The coaching staff for this window will be composed of Gilas Pilipinas Men's Team program head Tab Baldwin with Jong Uichico, Boyet Fernandez, Alton Lister, Sandro Soriano, and Andrei Tolentino.
All of the team members tested negative for COVID-19 before entering the training bubble as the pool is all set to start their training Friday.