'Tropang MVP' eyed for Fiba Asia tilt?

By Nelson Beltran, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 23 2012 12:58 PM | Updated as of Dec 23 2012 08:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - With all the constraints it is facing, the 2013 Asian championship-bound Smart Gilas Pilipinas II may end up a team composed only of players from the MVP Group teams.

The core of the Talk n Text Tropang Texters may lead the team to be complemented by players from the Meralco Bolts and the Gilas cadet team.

The national training team returned to practice Friday night with a lean attendance, counting only cadet players plus three pros in JayR Reyes, Ronjay Buenafe and KG Canaleta. Invited but who did not show up were Arwind Santos, Junmar Fajardo, Jay Washington, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Lutz.

Coach Chot Reyes set a 10-day training for the pool set to compete in international invitational tourneys in Dubai and Hong Kong in January. Restricted for these tune-up events are teams that made the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup Final Four. Jones Cup heroes LA Tenorio and Gary David are also unavailable due to injuries.

A bigger problem is the conflict of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship schedule with the PBA calendar. The 2012-13 PBA season ends last week of July and the Asian joust is set first week of August, denying a pro selection window room for good training and preparation.

And there's the PBA's policy of "no distraction" to league calendar insofar as lending players to the national team is concerned.

Thus comes the big possibility of the core of the Talk n Text team carrying the national banner in the 2013 Asian meet that serves as the qualifier for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

This formula has been adopted by the Philippines in 1994 with then PBA All-Filipino champion team San Miguel Beer making up the core of the national team that placed fourth in the Hiroshima Asian Games.

For the Dubai and HK invitationals, Reyes may have no other options but to play mostly cadet players.

"We're doing the best we can under the circumstances. My job is to build the best team with the material given me," said Reyes.

Cadet pool players include Matt Ganuelas, Greg Slaughter, Kevin Alas, Ronald Pascual, Jake Pascual, Garvo Lanete and RR Garcia. Ian Sangalang was a no-show Friday night while Nico Salva declined invitation to join the pool, having decided to join the next PBA draft.

Eyed to reinforce the backcourt is Fil-Am player Justin Melton.

For the cadet pool, the Dubai and HK tourneys serve as their buildup for the 2013 Southeast Asian Games.

"For sure, bugbog tayo sa (we'll be mauled in) Dubai. But that's nice (experience to learn from) for the cadet players," said Reyes.

The national teams of Iran, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria and Egypt are among those regularly competing in the Dubai conclave.