|Smart Gilas II. Photo courtesy of Chot Reyes on Twitter (@coachot).
MANILA, Philippines - Smart Gilas II has been formally formed, and coach Chot Reyes and the members of the national training pool are looking forward to start their training and preparation for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
Substitute candidates Sol Mercado, Jarred Dillinger, Jeff Chan, Jvee Casio and Mac Baracael readily signed their letters of commitment as the pool members, the coaching staff and the team management had their first meeting inside the Meralco complex in Pasig Monday.
Mercado, Dillinger, Chan, Casio and Baracael complete the roster that also includes Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams, Larry Fonacier, Ryan Reyes, Jason Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo of Talk n Text, Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, Rico Villanueva of Ginebra, LA Tenorio and Sonny Thoss of Alaska, Gary David of Powerade and naturalized player Marcus Douthit.
NBA behemoth Javale McGee joins the team if his naturalization paper is processed in time for the Asian joust that serves as the regional qualifier for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
To impress upon the players that their goal is to make the Spain world tourney, SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan is bringing the pool to that opulent European country for their team-building session at the end of the current PBA season.
At the start of their Monday meeting, a video of the PH-Korea game in Wuhan, China last year was shown for the players to feel that the aspiration is achievable.
It was a virtual repeat of what happened to the Philippines in the Busan Asian Games in 2002.
The Nationals then just blew away the game for third place honors that would have sent them outright to the World Olympic Qualifier.
"We don't want that to happen to us," Reyes told the players.
In the coming Asian meet, Smart Gilas II also needs to just make the Top Three to gain a trip to the 2014 World Cup.
"The video showing set the tone. Everyone is committed to do the job," said Gilas operations chief Butch Antonio.
The Gilas officer is now working on the schedule of the team's practice sessions. They are likely to start their once-a-week workout next week.
"It's supposed to be Monday. However, some players are not available that day," said Antonio.
Antonio also said they will no longer wait for James Yap, Marc Pingris, Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter.
"We're not closing the door, though. If they sign a commitment letter, then we'll consider," said Antonio.
The management is happy with the excitement expressed by Mercado, Dillinger, Chan, Casio, Baracael, Alapag, Williams, Fonacier, Reyes, Castro, De Ocampo, Norwood, Villanueva, Tenorio, Thoss, David and Douthit.
"No one was late in the meeting and there's camaraderie. That's a good sign," said Antonio.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios expressed his satisfaction over the program's progress, saying the cadet pool of non-PBA players will be announced shortly.
For this year, the Nationals compete in the SEABA championship (qualifier for FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup) in July, the Jones Cup in August, the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup in September, and the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in October.
Also being arranged is an exhibition game with the Shanghai Sharks late June.