THE work gets a little easier for Gilas Pilipinas.
When the Filipino cagers fly to Jakarta and play Indonesia this Sunday in the opening window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers, they don’t have to worry about former PBA import Lester Prosper.
To be handled by former Gilas coach Rajko Toroman, the Indonesians will not have the services of Prosper, whose naturalization process was not finished in time for the game.
“We will use a squad of all Indonesians,” Danny Kosasih, president of the Indonesian Basketball Association, said when asked if the development regarding Prosper was true.
This news came a day after Gilas named the 12-man team that will play the Indonesians, who, in the eyes of Philippine interim coach Mark Dickel, remain a worthy challengers for the favored Gilas quintet.
“Especially playing on their home court, I anticipate the game being really difficult. So we’ve gotta go over there and play a good game. They’re not gonna give it to us,” Dickel told sportswriters after the team’s practice Wednesday night at the Meralco gym.
“We’re assuming they will have Prosper just because they’ve had enough time now, and they weren’t able to do that in the SEA Games, and the word was they didn’t have enough time,” Dickel said.
Prosper also missed playing in the 30th SEA Games in Manila where Gilas mauled Indonesia, 97-70, on the way to an unbeaten run to the championship.
Seven PBA professionals—Kiefer Ravena, CJ Perez, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Poy Erram, Justin Chua and Abu Tratter—made it to the team after a series of tryouts.
Rounding out the team are Kiefer’s brother and UAAP standout Thirdy, Juan Gomez de Liano, Isaac Go, Dwight Ramos and Matt Nieto.
“The SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) extends its appreciation to all the players were part of the pool for the hard work they put in,” said SBP president Al Panlilio in a statement sent to People’s Journal.
“We also thank the PBA teams that selflessly released the players requested by our coaching staff,” he added.
Panlilio said the Gilas team is one that “features balance between youth and experience as we have seven PBA players, six of whom already have international basketball experience.”
“Joining them are a group of hungry young players who are raging to represent the country and introduce themselves to the international basketball scene,” said the SBP head.
According to Dickel, naming the final 12 was not easy to make especially with the SBP also eyeing the development of the young players for the 2023 Fiba Basketball World Cup which the country is co-hosting with Japan.
Dickel said he likes the combination of youth and experience.
“We felt that the PBA players that we picked gave us a really, really good base to build off. And then the other younger players can complement them,” he said.