The photo is sourced from Gilas Pilipinas (PBA Images).

As the Asian Games draw closer in China, Gilas Pilipinas finds itself grappling with roster complications, four days before their anticipated return to the prestigious tournament.

The national basketball team faced a whirlwind of uncertainty when several players initially listed in the Final 12 roster were suddenly excluded from the lineup. This unexpected development prompted interim head coach Tim Cone to explore alternative options, as the World Cup lineup, which seemed like the logical choice, encountered a significant portion of its members expressing their unavailability for the upcoming continental meet.

In a recent tune-up match on September 22, Gilas Pilipinas secured an 86-81 victory against the Korean club team LG Sakers at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City. Notably, this game featured five last-minute replacements, including CJ Perez, Arvin Tolentino, Chris Ross, Kevin Alas, and Marcio Lassiter, who stepped in for Roger Pogoy. In a show of unity and commitment, even pending pool players Terrence Romeo, Jason Perkins, and Mo Tautuaa attended the match.

Interim head coach Tim Cone expressed his gratitude for the presence of the four replacements and the commitment of the three pending pool players. He remarked, “Obviously, the four were here except for Calvin (Abueva). The other three came here, and we really appreciate it. I thought that was really cool to have them here. Is there no hope for them? They’re breathing. That’s about all we can say. They’re still alive. We’re still working on it and we’ll have a definitive time by the 24th but by and large, we got our 12 right now.”

This heartwarming photo, capturing the dynamic duo of Justin with 19 points and June Mar with 16 points, showcases the combination we all adore ❤️. It’s sourced from the PBA’s official Facebook page.

As of now, the Final 12 roster comprises Scottie Thompson, Calvin Oftana, Chris Newsome, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, and naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame. With their departure to China imminent, Gilas Pilipinas is gearing up to open their campaign against Bahrain in Group C just two days from now.

Despite the challenges posed by the roster adjustments and the tight schedule, Coach Tim Cone remains optimistic about the team’s prospects at the Asian Games. He emphasized that a team should not be judged by a single game and highlighted the positive aspects of their performance in the tune-up match. Cone stated, “You never judge a team by one game, whether good or bad. You never judge an import by the first game they play. We’re still adjusting together but we really did some positive things out there, we moved the ball well, we had 14 assists in the first half. We didn’t come into this game worried about whether we would lose or win; I said everybody else would worry about that, but we’re just gonna come out and see if we can defend and move the ball.”

This image has been sourced from the official Facebook page of One Sports.

In the preliminary round of the tournament, the Philippines is set to face Thailand and Jordan in addition to their opening match against Bahrain. Despite the ongoing challenges, Gilas Pilipinas remains committed to representing their country with pride and determination as they aim for success at the Asian Games.