MANILA, Philippines -- National team stalwart Gabe Norwood can't wait to see how the young Gilas Pilipinas squad will perform in the FIBA competitions next month.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) opted to send a young team of cadets to the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga on June 16-20, as well as the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia on June 29 to July 4.
This, as both tournaments are likely to coincide with the upcoming PBA season.
Norwood, a veteran of two FIBA Basketball World Cups, has no doubt that the young players will give a good account of themselves in both events.
"I'm excited for what (Gilas Pilipinas program director) Coach Tab (Baldwin) has going," said Norwood on "Power and Play" recently.
What gives Norwood confidence is that the players, for all their youth and inexperience, have the luxury of time. The Gilas Pilipinas pool has been training on and off at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna since the start of the year to prepare for both FIBA competitions.
The team will be anchored by the players selected by the SBP from the PBA Rookie Draft: Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, Rey Suerte, William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Jordan Heading, and Tzaddy Rangel.
Other student-athletes who have been called up are: naturalized center Ange Kouame, Dwight Ramos, Justine Baltazar, Javi Gomez de Liano, Dave Ildefonso, SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, Carl Tamayo, Jason Credo, Geo Chiu, and Lebron Lopez.
"I think that's been the biggest thing, no matter the team. Whether it's college players, cadets, pros, it's really come down to time and preparation," Norwood said.
"Just knowing Coach Tab, he's gonna have those guys ready. He's gonna have them ready to play, ready to compete, and just given all the time that they have, I'd be confident in that," he added.
As someone who has always been ready to answer the national team's call, Norwood said the young players should "cherish the moment."
"It's easy when you're young to think you're gonna have these chances over and over again," he said. "But really, cherish the moment."
Gilas Pilipinas currently has a 3-0 record in Group A of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers. They play South Korea twice, on June 16 and 20, and Indonesia on June 18, in the third and final window in Clark.
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