Tim Cone explains Almazan’s exclusion from Gilas roster

Raymond Almazan would’ve been an easy pick for Gilas’ final roster (PBA Images)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

After the initial names of the 24-man Gilas Pilipinas pool has been released by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), many thought that Meralco Bolts’ center and national team veteran Raymond Almazan will easily make the cut and join the team’s final roster.

However, Almazan’s name wasn’t included in the national team’s final 13-man pool, one big surprise that fans and analysts pondered heading into their matchup against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

In dire need of size to go against the tall competing lineups in the international game, Almazan was expected to join Japeth Aguilar, Carl Tamayo, and Kai Sotto.

To avoid miscommunication and to clear speculations, Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach Tim Cone shared why Almazan was excluded from the list.

“Raymond was super excited to join but had to beg off due to family issues regarding the health of his son. He certainly would have made the 12,” Cone posted on his Twitter account.

Previously, Magnolia’s superstar big man, Ian Sangalang, also refused SBP’s invitation to become a part of the national team.

Sangalang said that he is still nursing an injury after coming out of a grueling six-game PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series where they lost at the hands of the TNT Tropang Giga.

Despite the absence of Almazan and Sangalang, Sotto, Aguilar, and Tamayo will lead Gilas’ frontcourt combined with long and athletic personnel hand-picked by the SBP.

Manning the wings of Gilas are Chris Newsome, Roosevelt Adams, Jamie Malonzo, and Calvin Oftana who can all switch and defend the opposing big men.

Also boosting Gilas’ bid for a 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers sweep is former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson.