Contrary to the initial plan of adding amateur players to this year’s Gilas Pilipinas pool for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, newly appointed head coach Tim Cone opted to go for an all-PBA team in the upcoming biennial meet.
Tasked to come up with a new system with just a few weeks of preparation, the multi-titled coach opted to go for his old reliables — naming six players from the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to his 15-man pool.
After assessing Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, and Scottie Thompson in the first piece of this two-part series, FOX PH does the same with the remaining trio of LA Tenorio, Greg Slaughter, and Art dela Cruz.
After years of service to the national team, it’s hard to fathom that “El Tinyente” will only be making his SEA Games debut. Tenorio will be reunited with his 2014 FIBA World Cup backcourt mates Jayson Castro and now assistant coach Jimmy Alapag in what likely be his final hurrah as a Gilas player.
The 35-year-old undersized guard brings in a wealth of knowledge and experience — particularly with his familiarity with coach Tim’s system. His speed, three-point shooting, and crafty playmaking will no doubt be an asset for the Philippines on its bid to retain the gold.
Slaughter’s size alone should be enough to overwhelm our Southeast Asian neighbours, which makes him a shoe-in in the final 12 alongside fellow behemoth June Mar Fajardo. The team opted not to field in naturalized center Andray Blatche in the biennial meet, which makes Slaughter’s inclusion much more vital for the All-Filipino quintet.
Multiple injuries have limited “Gregzilla” recently, but he has made a conscious effort to slim down and is in the best shape of his career in the ongoing Governors’ Cup.
Art dela Cruz
Speaking of injuries, dela Cruz had to overcome his fair share just to get back on the hardwood. Grouped with perennial All-Stars in the 15-man pool, the San Beda product will likely be among the three to be left out in the final line-up.
Still, just being able to be named in the pool is a huge honor for the injury-stricken 27-year-old — whose initial Gilas call-up was cut short by a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2017.
(Images from PBA)