MANILA, Philippines – The future of Philippine basketball will compete as a team for the first time when they join the 2018 FilOil Flying V Premier Cup that starts on April 21.
Members of the "23 for 23" cadet pool will compete against top collegiate teams in the hopes that it will give coaches more knowledge about the players who may one day represent the country in international tournaments.
"It's just to make sure that we can know more about the players," Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said Tuesday. "Nothing allows you to know the players (more) than being in actual competitions."
"Kaya nga sabi ko sa FilOil, we want to join as a real team, not as a guest team, so real competition," he added.
All 23 members of the pool are part of the team, said Reyes, although players from De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University were not allowed by their schools to join the cadets.
The team has also added Batang Gilas standouts Kai Sotto and Raven Cortez. La Salle's Prince Rivero, who has taken a leave of absence from the Green Archers, will also play for the 23-for-23 team in the FilOil tournament.
Expected to banner the squad is former La Salle star Ricci Rivero, as well as Kobe Paras, who will return home after declaring that he was going to turn professional.
"Wala na naman siya (Ricci) sa La Salle, so he was in practice (on Monday)," Reyes said of the high-flying swingman who announced his departure from DLSU earlier this month.
Of Paras, Reyes said: "Kobe needs to play, not just practice. The more actual games he gets, the better he'll become. That's why we're including him in our Filoil and Jones Cup rosters."
According to Reyes, they also plan on including some members of the 23 for 23 pool in the Jones Cup team that will compete in Taiwan later this year.
However, the focus is on their stint in the FilOil tournament.
The 23 for 23 team will open their FilOil campaign against reigning UAAP champion Ateneo on April 21.
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