LeBron Lopez final cut from Gilas Pilipinas' 12-man OQT roster

LeBron Lopez is the final player cut from the Gilas Pilipinas lineup that will fly to Belgrade, Serbia for the upcoming FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) made the announcement Thursday and revealed the final 12-man roster that will take on the hosts and Dominican Republic on June 30 and July 1, respectively.

"At this stage, and with the strict FIBA protocols, there is no opportunity to bring LeBron to Serbia for the experience of being a part of the travelling pool and learning more from his more experienced Gilas brothers," said Special Assistant to the President Ryan Gregorio in a statement.

On hand for head coach Tab Baldwin and the rest of his staff are Kai Sotto, Dwight Ramos, RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel, William Navarro, Justine Baltazar, Isaac Go, Jordan Heading, Geo Chiu, Mike Nieto, Carl Tamayo, and naturalized big man Ange Kouame.

Baldwin, however, reiterated that the high-flying Ateneo commit will remain a member of the Gilas pool.

"LeBron's growth and development has been outstanding to this point and there is every expectation that it will continue as he will certainly remain a part of the Gilas pool," he said in a statement. "LeBron's elite athleticism, fiery competitive nature and blossoming skill set show great promise for the future."

The athletic 18-year-old guard suited up just once in the final window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Angeles City, Pampanga and logged eight points, five rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in just over nine minutes of action.

"As LeBron's understanding of basketball concepts matures and his cohesion with the Gilas culture and players continues to mature, there is every expectation that he will ultimately be a major contributor to Gilas in the future," Baldwin continued.

Lopez joins Javi Gomez de Liaño and Jaydee Tungcab as the final omissions.

Gomez de Liaño played three games in the qualifying tournament and averaged 10.7 points on 65 percent shooting to go with 3.0 rebounds in 16.9 minutes. The University of the Philippines forward also made 50 percent of his threes.

Tungcab, on the other hand, played just 7.0 minutes per contest in two games.

Gilas will leave Thursday for Belgrade Thursday afternoon.