Gilas interim head coach Mark Dickel admitted that the amount of talent in the national team pool made it difficult for him and his staff to make cuts for the first window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
"There were a lot of tough decisions," Dickel said Wednesday after announcing the 12-man roster set to face Indonesia on Sunday. "It was not an easy team to pick. We had numerous combinations that we could have gone with, and in a few positions we felt like we had cover with some young players."
Earlier blows to their original front court selection made picking the big men a pretty easy task as Gilas settled with Poy Erram, Troy Rosario, Isaac Go, Justin Chua and Abu Tratter. That left the team to deal with who to pick at the backcourt and at the wings, areas where Gilas had a bevy of choices to pick from.
Rain or Shine swingman Javee Mocon ended up being one of the toughest cuts from the final 12.
"Javee ended up being the unlucky PBA player, that through no fault of his own," he said after naming all other PBA players to the final 12. "We thought we just had cover with Dwight (Ramos) and Thirdy (Ravena) at that position."
Added Dickel: "I just thought we had other players that were younger at his position that for the future are really good. I think Dwight Ramos is one of our better players, period. It's just unlucky for Javee. When I told him (Wednesday), he was nothing but professional."
Gilas special draftee Allyn Bullanadi was another guard kept off the lineup due to the sheer depth present at the two spot.
"I thought he was so good in practices. And once again, that was a hard decision. But we thought we had cover with CJ (Perez) and Roger (Pogoy) in particular at that spot. Allyn, his time will come," explained the coach.
Dickel described the current 12 as the best mix of experience and talent Gilas could pit against the Indonesians come Sunday.
"In all honesty, the team in the last two days in practice have made it much, much easier to pick. We felt that PBA players that we picked gave us a really, really good base to build off. And then the other five younger players can complement them. That was the decision that was made. That's why we made it. We feel this will give us the best chance in this window to do well," he said.
"Obviously my job is to win. But at the same time, you gotta pick the best players that are in the group. And I thought we did that. For the players that missed out, really unfortunate for them but for the players that made it, they earned their spot. They're gonna have to go over there on Sunday in Indonesia and perform."
Gilas will be leaving Friday evening to face the same side that they dispatched in the semifinals of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games basketball tournament. Dickel, though, is anticipating the Indonesians to put up a more competitive fight even without naturalized player and former PBA import Lester Prosper, who was not named to the team's final lineup.
"They're really disciplined, they're well-coached. Although the Philippines at the SEA Games handled them pretty easily in the times they played them, up until halftime it was pretty close. They've proven to be a tough opponent, especially playing on their home court," he noted. "I anticipate the game being really difficult. So we're gonna go over there and play a good game. They're not gonna give it to us."