MANILA, Philippines -- TNT Tropang GIGA will play four games in the PBA Governors' Cup before the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, but these games will not serve as tryouts for spots in the national team.
This, according to head coach Chot Reyes who now calls the shots for both TNT and Gilas Pilipinas.
Gilas will be in action from February 24 to 28, as they will play against South Korea, India, and New Zealand in the World Cup qualifiers. Members of the TNT squad will bolster the national team, as only a handful of players from the Gilas pool were available.
Reyes assured that the PBA games they will play ahead of the qualifiers will not be seen as a "tryout."
"No, not at all, hindi ko 'yan tinitingnan. For me, 'yung PBA games, I'm taking them for what they are, it's a PBA game," the coach said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum this week.
"We need to win those games for us to advance to the playoffs. And, hindi ko 'yan tinitingnan as any kind of tryout or whatever, not at all," he stressed.
TNT will play Magnolia on February 11, Phoenix Super LPG on February 13, San Miguel on February 16, and Barangay Ginebra on February 18.
Reyes did acknowledge that the TNT players with previous national team experiences will have some advantage as far as selection is concerned. Several members of the Tropang GIGA roster -- notably Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy, and Poy Erram -- have played for Gilas before.
"Between a player who has never had an experience, and a player whose had the experience, siyempre may advantage na 'yung may experience," said Reyes. "Because the FIBA, the international game is very different."
"But having said that… the final decision is going to still be dependent upon who are the remaining original Gilas players that we have," he explained.
"It will be an advantage, but it's no assurance."
The TNT players will bolster the pool composed of naturalized center Ange Kouame, Juan Gomez de Liano, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, and Gilas draftees Will Navarro, Tzaddy Rangel, and Jaydee Tungcab.
Reyes also revealed that they are "taking a look" at including TNT guard Kib Montalbo in the lineup, given the lack of point guards in the group other than Gomez de Liano.
"We are testing that out, we're taking a look at how well they can play together," said Reyes. "The initial results are very, very promising. But then again, iba 'yung practice, iba 'yung laro."