MANILA, Philippines - Six-foot-9 Fil-Am player Isaac Holstein has been named as the lone last addition to Smart Gilas Pilipinas team leaving for Dubai tomorrow to compete in the 2013 Dubai International Invitational championship.
A product of West Virginia State U, Holstein joins the team that includes PBA players JayR Reyes, KG Canaleta, Ronjay Buenafe, fellow cadet players Justin Melton, Matt Ganuelas, Garvo Lanete, Greg Slaughter, RR Garcia, Kevin Alas, Ronald Pascual and Jake Pascual, and naturalized Filipino Marcus Douthit.
Japeth Aguilar was also offered a slot but the former Talk 'N Text slotman has opted to stay in the US.
"Nobody knows what Japeth's going to do. I don't think even he knows what he wants to do," said Smart Gilas coach Chot Reyes on his Twitter account.
Right after the Dubai tourney comes the Hong Kong Invitationals for the national training pool. The two international invitational meets serve as part of the buildup of Gilas for important international jousts late in the year. The elite Gilas team competes in the FIBA Asia World Cup qualifier while the cadet team defends the country’s title in the Southeast Asian Games.
"To all asking why we don't field imports: This is a learning and preparatory tourney. Kung may import tayo, di makakalaro at matututo ang mga bata natin (If we have an import, our young players won’t be able to play and learn)," said Reyes.
In Dubai tourney that starts Thursday, Gilas will be up against three teams from Lebanon, two from United Arab Emirates and one each from Jordan and Kazakhstan. Participating teams are allowed to field two imports.
Reyes isn't expecting much from the team in Dubai, saying: "(We) have too much unfamiliarity to overcome and too little time."
"But the players are trying hard," Reyes stressed.
It would be noted that only Reyes, Ganuelas and Douthit are returnees from the Gilas squad that ruled the last Jones Cup championship in Taipei. Most of the Gilas mainstays from the PBA are not available for Dubai since they’re tied up with their mother clubs at the moment.