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Gilas lures old, new of the best

SBP officials, led by Chair Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan (center), SBP president Al Panlilio, vice chairman Robbie Puno, executive director Sonny Barrios and deputy executive director Bernie Atienza and national coach Chot Reyes, welcome the new cast of youth aspirants to the Gilas pool. twitter.com@chotreyes

MANILA, Philippines — They came in various shapes and sizes and shades of school affiliation, heeding the call for a possible tour of duty under the Gilas banner, in the process boosting the country’s No. 1 patron’s confidence that the future of the national team is secured.

Ateneo hotshot Thirdy Ravena and Lyceum stalwart CJ Perez led 11 other youngsters, who showed up ready to be counted by Gilas coach Chot Reyes and SBP Chair Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan in the resumption of the Gilas Pilipinas training at the Meralco gym Monday night.

Those who showed up were Isaac Go, Kemark Carino, Paul Desiderio, J-Jay Alejandro, Javee Mocon, Robert Bolick, Juan Gomez De Liano, Will Gozum, Arvin Tolentino, Jeo Ambohot and Joshua Sinclair, joining Gilas veterans in what the Gilas coach considered as “perhaps the largest gathering of multi-generational talent in Philippine hoop history.”

Pangilinan, SBP president Al Panlilio, vice chairman Robbie Puno, executive director Sonny Barrios and deputy executive director Bernie Atienza also came to personally welcome the youngsters to the Gilas pool.

“What a sight to behold. (It) makes me optimistic about the Gilas future,” said Pangilinan in seeing the Gilas veterans and the new cadets together on the court.

Everybody was enthusiastic as the new cadets were called one by one to get their Gilas training jersey from the SBP vice chair.

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Missing from Reyes’ “23 for ’23” pool were those who were either sick, out of the country or playing abroad.

The biggest surprise was the appearance of La Salle guard/forward Ricci Rivero as spectator.

“He came on his own. I don’t know if they’re going to try to talk to their team. The pool is open. We’re all inclusive. But that’s a different discussion altogether,” said Reyes.

The Gilas coach earlier said La Salle had requested that their players not be tapped in the pool yet as they are in a transition period under a new coach.

Rivero’s appearance in the Gilas practice might well be an indication of his desire to be with the pool. Accompanied by his father, Rivero declined interview requests.

Veterans present at the start of their buildup for the second window of the FIBA Asia World Cup qualifiers were Kiefer Ravena, Troy Rosario, Allein Maliksi, Carl Cruz, Roger Pogoy, Mac Belo, Kevin Alas, Jio Jalalon, Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, Matthew Wright and Gabe Norwood.

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