By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
With less than two weeks of preparation left for the first window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff had to make adjustments.
Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger, and Mac Belo were included in the initial pool but begged off to be included in the first window due to several reasons.
The star trio will now be replaced by Vic Manuel, Abu Tratter, and Javee Mocon to complete the Gilas roster for the first qualifier game.
Manuel proved doubters wrong after his stellar debut in the national team during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, helping the PH squad clinch the gold medal.
Despite his young age, Tratter is no stranger to the international scene after playing for Gilas in the 2019 FIBA Asian qualifiers and made his defensive presence felt during his short stint.
On the other hand, Mocon is the newest member of the FIBA pool and will try to familiarize himself with the system deployed by coach Mark Dickel.
A 6’4” small forward, Mocon developed his offensive prowess and did not take long to break out of his shell with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Gilas Pilipinas will take on Thailand in the first game of the qualifiers on February 20, 2020.