Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said that he really welcomes veteran for¬ward Jean Marc Pingris’ change of heart to play again for the national team.
“Ping will provide leadership and energy. I’m not expecting him to do things that he’s not doing. We’re happy with his decision to return,” Baldwin told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Monday. “Welcome back Ping. There is no drama. We’ll go back in practice tomorrow [Wednesday].”
Pingris, 33, originally begged off playing for the national team this year because of personal reasons but later reconsidered after consulting his relatives and Star’s team governor Rene Pardo.
Baldwin also emphasized the importance of their campaign in Estonia despite being winless in three games – losing to Netherlands, host Estonia and Iceland.
“It is enough for us to identify the team’s weaknesses during the event. We improved every game,” he said.
In other developments, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Deputy Director for International affairs Butch Antonio said that Bobby Ray Parks Jr. and Jordan Clarkson are listed on the final 24-line-up for the 28th FIBA Asia Championship in September in China.
“We included Parks and Clarkson, some others, to the list of 24 players that might see action in the FIBA Asia Championship Olympic qualifying tournament,” Antonio confirmed to The Manila Times on Tuesday. “That 24-man list is a requirement of FIBA for its tournament.”
Both of Filipino-American parentage, Parks is a 6’4 left-handed guard who’s currently looking for a break in the National Basketball Association (NBA), while the 6’5 Clarkson is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“The deadline of the final 12 for each team in FIBA Asia is on September 8,” he said. “We don’t like to leave no stone unturned. At least, they are already included in the list just in case we need them in the final 12 if someone gets injured.”
“We cannot get any player outside the 24-man list we submitted to FIBA,” Antonio added.
Baldwin said that Parks and Clarkson are welcome additions to the team but their inclusion would depend on the decision of FIBA, the world’s highest governing body on basketball.
“I’m not thinking of that [Parks and Clarkson addition to Gilas] because SBP is still working on it. I cannot comment on that for the meantime,” he said.
Besides Parks, Clarkson and Pingris, the other new players included in the 24-man pool are guard Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo, Paul Dalistan [Lee] of Rain or Shine, June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter of San Miguel Beer and LA Tenorio of Ginebra.
The earlier lineup includes naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche, Jimmy Alapag of Meralco, Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, Sonny Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros and Calvin Abueva of Alaska, JC Intal of Barako, Aldrech Ramos and Paul Asi Taulava of Northern Luzon Expressway, Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, rookie Moala Tautuaa and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser of Talk ‘N Text, Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort, rookie Jeth Troy Rosario of Mahindra and Gary David of Meralco.