NLEX young guards Kevin Alas and rookie Kiefer Ravena, along with sweet-shooting Blackwater wingman Allein Maliksi made the Gilas final 12 that wll go up against Japan in their FIBA World Cup qualifiers debut Friday at the at the Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground gymnasium in Tokyo.
Except for the FIBA Asia Cup in 2014, where Gilas took home the bronze in Wuhan, China, this marks the first time the 26-year-old Alas will make the bigger stage of international competitions in his budding basketball career.
Ravena, meantime, has showed big strides in his young basketball career as evidenced by his team-best 20.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists that saw Gilas place sixth in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup last September in Chenzhou, China.
Maliksi is also making his debut in the FIBA tournament.
His first stint with the national team happened last May where Gilas swept the SEABA men’s championships in Manila.
Other members of the final 12 include naturalized player Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, RR Pogoy, Matthew Wright, and Troy Rosario.
Last cuts for the Japan match were Raymond Almazan, who is still nursing an ankle sprain, Mac Belo and Carl Bryan Cruz.
Chot Reyes reiterated that the final 12 will just for the game against Japan.
“We took into account our health and our injury situation and so we’ve decided to sit Carl, Mac and Raymond for tomorrow (Friday),” Reyes said during the announcement that was held live on the Kuwentong Gilas Facebook page Thursday morning.
“I spoke to the three of them earlier and they’ve taken it very, very professionally. I just want to tell everybody that we came here as a 15-man team,” stressed the Gilas mentor.
“Those three guys not playing tomorrow doesn’t mean they are not part of the team. They are entitled to everything and privileges. And for tomorrow, that’s our lineup, pero di ibig sabihin yun na rin yun hanggang Taiwan,” he added.
Photos courtesy of Chooks-to-Go and Joaqui Flores