<
>

Tim Cone taps PBA veterans for Gilas SEA Games pool

Marcio Lassiter and Scottie Thompson share a light moment during the Gilas Pilipinas practice at the Meralco Gym on September 3, 2018 KC Cruz/ESPN5

Six players from Barangay Ginebra are included in the Gilas Pilipinas 15-man pool for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, Gilas coach Tim Cone and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) announced on Thursday.

Given the short amount of preparation time, Cone said he will lean on the Kings' current core -- LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter and Art dela Cruz -- for familiarity.

Other PBA players joining the six are TNT's Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario; San Miguel's Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger and June Mar Fajardo; Alaska's Vic Manuel and Phoenix's Matthew Wright.

Rookie guards Robert Bolick and CJ Perez, who both had impressive stints in the FIBA World Cup, were notable omissions from Cone's lineup, but the two-time Grand Slam coach said it was only because they needed veterans who can learn quickly during their short time together.

"We decided to go with a veteran group, again because -- and this is not always the truth -- generally, veterans are easier to coach short-term. They pick up things faster than young guys. This is all about speed and efficiency that we're trying to do. I know that guys like Bolick and Perez had a great [World Cup] but once we decided we were gonna take six Ginebra players, we decided to go with a veteran group," he explained.

Cone added that he and the SBP did not discuss Andray Blatche or the possibility of adding a naturalized player. With this pool, Cone and the SBP believe it is the best blend of talent available for the regional meet.

"It's just about finding the balance in terms of position and trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. That's what we were trying to do with this list. We didn't go for all shooters, or all power players, or all slashers. We're trying to find a balance in which we could show different lineups so if we wanna play big, we can play big. If we wanna play small, we can play small. We can play across the board," he noted.

Gilas will start practicing every Monday starting September 30. Cone will only have eight Mondays together with the pool, but he bared the team's plans of possibly adding Thursday practices as their preparations progress.

"We only have eight practices to prepare and we'll do our best, and I think we'll do well because again we have that core, we have the players. That's something we can always fall back on and rely on. And then you have June Mar there, you have Jason there, you have RR there, Troy, Matthew Wright, suddenly that Ginebra team looks pretty darn good. And we're gonna put a good Ginebra team together," said Cone.

Meanwhile, SBP president Al Panlilio said that the search for a permanent coach continues but that a more coherent strategy for Gilas as a whole needs to be developed. First on their agenda is to decide whether they'll send an all-PBA team, an all-amateur roster or a mix of both for the FIBA Asia Cup, which will start February next year, and in future windows of the World Cup qualifiers.

"Honestly we haven't [even] thought about who the team should be. But again, it's an opportunity for us to consider who's part of Gilas moving forward. Do we send a development team? Because the PBA schedule would just be starting around that time. We'll have to think about it," Panlilio said.

The PBA schedule, cited as one of the limitations during Gilas' preparation for China, is something that Panlilio said also needs to be discussed.

"We're trying to get the right formula that can move forward in terms of Gilas development. At the same time, the development of the PBA," Panlilio said.

SBP also revealed the 12 names included in the Gilas pool for the 3x3 men's competition: Anthony Semerad, Robert Bolick, Chris Newsome, Terrence Romeo, Ian Sangalang, Mac Belo, Chris Banchero, Raymond Almazan, CJ Perez, Jason Perkins, Mo Tautuaa and Baser Amer.

Panlilio said they decided to go for an all-PBA lineup instead of drawing players from the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league due to the pressing need to win a gold medal.

"Well, we wanna make sure that we have the best players and we want to win the gold. Again it's part of the commitment of the PBA supporting the SBP programs in both 5-on-5 and 3x3," he said.

ESPN5's JC Ansis contributed to this report.