LUCENA — With the final roster for the upcoming 2017 Seaba Championships announced, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes expressed his satisfaction with the makeup of his lineup.
“I think it’s very balanced and it’s very versatile. It has size, and it’s a great combinations of rookies and veterans: rookies to the Gilas system, rookies to the PBA, and veterans as well,” he said on Friday.
Naturalized center Andray Blatche, and mainstays June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, and Japeth Aguilar were no-brainer selections for Reyes.
He also tabbed Troy Rosario, national team debutants Raymond Almazan and Allein Maliksi, and cadets Matthew Wright, Jio Jalalon, and Roger Pogoy to comprise the squad for the regional tiff.
“This team is built on its flexibility and versatility,” the outspoken mentor said. “We know that in the international game, even the bigs can hit threes, so you have to be able to play defense and you have to be able to switch the ball screens and that’s the kind of lineup that we have. I like our ability to do what we were just doing today.”
Influencing Reyes decision was the promising performance from his pool members in the first two legs of the 2017 PBA All-Star Week.
The Nationals fought to a 114-all stalemate against the Mindanao All-Stars on Wednesday in Cagayan de Oro, before pulling off a stunning 122-111 comeback victory against a famed Luzon All-Star squad on Friday here.
Reyes was in awe of Gilas’ showing against a powerhouse Luzon crew after they used a 17-0 finishing kick to steal the game away, saying what team showed was the perfect embodiment of what the Gilas culture is all about.
“I thought there’s no way we could get back with the way the other team was playing. Those were very good players, veterans who were playing and shooting very well, but again, I’m not surprised because that’s what the Gilas program is made of, what it’s all about: never giving up, never quitting,” he said. “That’s all I said in the huddle when we were down. I said this is your opportunity to show us, to show me how much you want to be part of Gilas and how much you understand what the culture is all about. When they came back, we got a little bit of momentum, then I knew that we had a chance.”
He continued: “In the end, it’s up to the players to execute. It’s up to the players to make sacrifice and to adjust, and that’s a big thing that happened in this game. We were struggling, so we did some new things in our offense that we never practiced, same thing with our defense, and they showed a great ability to adjust, to be adaptable. We made some key adjustments in the fourth quarter to get us back in the ballgame.”
Reyes is glad to have showcased what his Gilas pool players are capable of, showing the public a view of what the future holds for the national team.
“That’s exactly our plan when we put this team together, that it’s going to be a good team, a deep team. We knew we had to form two teams so I think it’s in the full view of the public. The public saw a glimpse of what the others could do, those who played very well in the end game and who won’t make the Seaba 12. You all saw how good they could play,” he said.
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