By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
It seems like head coach Chot Reyes’ goal of building more team chemistry for the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team before the 2023 FIBA World Cup kicks off will not be met anymore.
After the confirmed absence of Gilas mainstays Kai Sotto and Japeth Aguilar, Carl Tamayo, one of the most consistent power forwards of the squad during the past three FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers windows, will also not join in their last two games against Lebanon and Jordan.
Tamayo already left the Philippines after signing a three-year deal with the Ryukyu Golden Kings currently competing for a playoff spot in the Japan B. League.
This was also the same scenario with Sotto who already left Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) to play in Japan for the Hiroshima Dragonflies.
Without the trio of Tamayo, Sotto, and Aguilar, Gilas was just left with a huge hole in their frontcourt roster.
Gilas already made moves after tapping the 41-year-old national team ex-member Kelly Williams who is expected to bring in veteran leadership and more paint defense.
However, it is still unsure whether Williams will be included in the final pool for the prestigious World Cup where the country already received an outright seat due to its hosting of the 2023 global hoops edition.
Reyes will try to solve the puzzle with only two weeks left to prepare and will have San Miguel Beermen superstar June Mar Fajardo as its main anchor underneath.
Mason Amos, a Filipino-Aussie who is set to debut with the Ateneo Blue Eagles this upcoming UAAP season, is also confirmed to join the team despite being a first-timer with Gilas.
Gilas will look to patch things up as they take on the hungry Lebanon team on February 24 and Jordan on February 27 to be held at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.