By Eddie Alinea
Thu, 23 May 2013
MANILA (PNA) -- Gilas-Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes must have found a reinforcement who could provide the Nationals the needed rebounding and defensive muscles in its bid to finish at least third in the coming FIBA-Asia Championship the country is hosting Aug. 1-11 in two separate venues.
Needing additional personnel due to injuries to several members of the national pool, Reyes invited other players from the PBA ball clubs to beef up the list of candidates presently undergoing tryouts for membership in the team that has a little more than two months to prepare for the 27th edition of the biennial tournament that serves as qualifier for the 2014 World Men’s Championship in Madrid, Spain.
In last Monday’s first of what is designed Monday-to-Friday workout scheduled by the coaching staff, which also includes assistants Jong Uichico, Norman Black and Ryan Gregorio, only Petron’s Arwind Santos though his presence, nevertheless, elated Reyes a bit.
“I was expecting more, but only Arwind showed up. As of now, okay na rin kasi he can provide what the team needs in certain departments, like rebounding, defending and even point-production,” Reyes told this writer after the light practice session held at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
“ Arwind is not yet sure though of attending what could be a tough training grind we prepared for the team, including attending a training camp in Lithuania next month. We had a long talk after the practice and he told me he will try to get the permission of the San Miguel management kung papayagan siya,” Reyes confided.
“Opo, yun nga po, kelangan payagan muna ako ng management kung maglalaro ako sa national team,” the Petron power-forward said, adding though that he has the permission of team manager Hector Calma, himself a member of the 1985 Nationals that won for the country its last Asian crown when FIBA-Asia was still known as Asian Basketball Confederation, to attend Monday’s workout.
“It was actually Mr. Willie Marcial who called me to attend today’s workout although earlier, Sir Hec (Calma) also called instructing me nga na tatawag si Sir Willie sa akin para imbitahin ako sa practice.
Kaya ako nandito ngayon,” Santos, the co-MVP in the recent PBA All-Star Weekend held in Digos, Davao del Sur, narrated.
“Coach Chot and I agreed that I will start attending the team workout next Monday pa, kapag pinayagan na ako ng management,” Santos, the league’s ‘Rajah of the Rebound’ in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, said.
“Siguro naman papayagan ako, matagal pa naman ang start ng Third Conference pagkatapos pa ng FIBA-Asia.”
“Noon pa naman, bago pa ma-select ang national training pool, I already stated my desire to play for this year’s FIBA-Asia championship,” the former Far Eastern University King Tamaraw recalled. “Kaya lang hindi ako napili kasi the PBA decided daw na one player lang ang puedeng i-contribute ng bawat team.”
Only six of Reyes’ original pool attended the Monday workout – Mark Pingris of San Mig Coffee, June Mar Fajardo of Petron, Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine and Gary David and Japeth Aguilar – and naturalized player Marcus Douthit.
Jason Castro, Jimmy Alapag, Larry Fonacier, Ryan Reyes and Ranidel de Ocampo, all of Talk ‘N Text, according to Black were still licking the wounds of the Tropang Texters’ failure to make it to the Commissioner’s Cup finals as well as Ginebra’s La Tenorio for losing in the gold medal play. Sonny thoss of eventual Commissioner’s Cup champion Alaska was still enjhoying the euphoria of his team’s title conquest and his being adjudged Finals MVP.
Should the Pride of Lubao in Pampanga, a two-time ‘defensive player of the yaer (2009 and 2011),’ finally makes it, the Manila FIBA-Asia tournament will be the third time that Reyes will handle Santos in an international competitions following their team-up in the former’s rookie year when he was chosen as member of the 2006 PH Five in the prestigious Jones Cup in Taipei.
The beanpole Santos, called “Lastik Man” and “Spider Man” by basketball fans, was also a member of Reyes’ Nationals in the 2009 FIBA-Asia in Horishma, Japan.
Two weeks ago, during the SCOOP Sa Kamayan session at the Kamayan Restaurant-Padre Faura, Reyes expressed his desire to include Santos, in his team, whould the need arises and should he be able to get permission from his ballclub.
Besides his prowess of the boards that earned for him an average 11.7 rebounds per game in only six years in the play-for-pay league, Santos is also already in the list of the all-time most defensive and most offensive rebounds, all time most steals and all-time most blocked shots categories, among others.
“Kung sa maitutulong, pakikinabangan si Arwind,” Reyes said of Santos. “Ilang taon pa lang siya sa PBA pero consistent and kanyang performance. In fact, kung titingnan mo ang stats nya, lagi syang nasa top five since he turned pro.”
Also present in Monday’s workout were Gilas cadet players Gavo Lanete, brothers Jake and Robert Pascual, Mitts Ganuelas, RR Garcia and Kevin Alas.
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