After the press conference for the upcoming PBA Philippine Cup finals on Friday, TNT Tropang Giga coach Chot Reyes -- who is also in charge of the Philippines national team -- shared a quick hug with San Miguel Beermen guard CJ Perez.
"Jay (Perez)!" Reyes exclaimed. "Sayang nag-finals kayo eh."
"Oo nga, coach," Perez replied. "Next time."
Reyes was referring to the fact that Perez, a member of the 24-man Gilas Pilipinas pool for the upcoming FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, will not be available for next week's games against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia since his team will be playing in the finals.
While it was inevitable that some players would not be available (June Mar Fajardo is also out for the same reason), what is worrying Reyes is that other players in the pool either still have not shown up or have turned down their invitations.
"Kulang na kulang pa kami. Hindi pa kami nakakabuo at all," Reyes told ESPN. "Maybe tomorrow (Saturday) when Jordan Clarkson arrives."
Clarkson is scheduled to fly in on Friday night and join practice the next day, according to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, and Reyes is hoping his presence will spur the others to show up.
Adelaide 36ers center Kai Sotto arrived Thursday evening and is set to join practice immediately, but there is still no sign of other players -- including the two college standouts in the pool who suited up in the FIBA Asia Cup.
"Carl Tamayo is still playing for UP (in two preseason tournaments). Kevin Quiambao is still playing for La Salle," Reyes revealed. "It's really hard."
Players in the pool from the two eliminated semifinalists -- Magnolia Hotshots and Meralco Bolts -- have either declined or haven't appeared yet.
"Ian (Sangalang) has begged off," Reyes said. "He's really banged up. If you remember, he has stitches on his forehead. Jio (Jalalon) has a hamstring injury."
Among the three Bolts in the pool, Reyes said Chris Newsome showed up for Thursday night practice. There's still no sign yet of Allein Maliksi or Raymond Almazan, although they have not formally withdrawn. Also in the pool but has yet to show up is NorthPort Batang Pier's Robert Bolick.
Reyes added that so far, the consistent attendees have been NorthPort's Jamie Malonzo, NLEX Road Warriors' Calvin Oftana and Kevin Alas, Japan B-League players Dwight Ramos, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks, and teenager Francis Lopez.
Barangay Ginebra's Scottie Thompson and Arvin Tolentino, as well as free agent Roosevelt Adams, have shown up. However, Ginebra big man Japeth Aguilar is still sidelined by an illness, according to Reyes.
Gilas plays Lebanon on Aug. 25 in Beirut and Saudi Arabia on Aug. 29 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With 10 players either declining or unavailable, Reyes and his coaching staff will have to choose the final 12 from among those who are consistently attending.