MANILA — (UPDATED) After being no-shows in the national team’s first three practices of 2018, Alaska’s Calvin Abueva and Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan have been dropped from the Gilas Pilipinas pool - at least for the time being.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes announced after Monday’s practice that both Abueva and Almazan are no longer included in the pool of players who will suit up in the second qualifying window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Abueva was part of the final 12-man line-up in the first qualifying window last November, while Almazan was in the pool but did not make the final cut.
This time around, neither player will compete for Gilas when they return to action on February.
“The reason why we’re dropping Abueva and Almazan for the second window (is), they haven’t shown up,” Reyes explained. “It’s already our third practice. Hindi sila nagpapakita.”
“It’s simply a matter of disinterest,” he added. “I guess they’re not interested, so we have to move on. We can’t wait for these guys.”
Abueva has been a part of the Gilas Pilipinas program since 2015, but was controversially cut from the 2016 team that competed in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. He made his return to the pool in 2017, and played in the SEABA Championships and the FIBA Asia Cup.
Almazan, meanwhile, made his Gilas debut in the SEABA Championships in May 2017, and also suited up for Gilas in the FIBA Asia Cup.
Reyes made it clear, however, that their continued absence from practice was simply inexcusable. He pointed out that some of the players during Monday’s practice had a game earlier in the day, but still managed to attend the training session.
“It's just a question of dedication and desire. Kung gusto mo maraming paraan, pag ayaw mo maraming dahilan, ‘di ba?,” he said.
“That's the reason why we do these once-a-week practices, we wanna see who are the people who really want to be here and that's a big part of what we're looking for from these guys,” he added.
Only 10 members of the senior team were present on Monday, and two of them — Jayson Castro and Carl Bryan Cruz — were in street clothes.
Reyes has yet to choose players who will replace Abueva and Almazan in the pool, with team manager Butch Antonio saying they will make “representations with the PBA Office” if they do name a replacement.
According to Reyes, Rain or Shine and Alaska have been informed that their players have been dropped from the pool.
However, informing the players themselves is another issue entirely.
“How can we communicate with them if they’re not here?” he asked rhetorically.
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