Gilas Pilipinas standout Kiefer Ravena will spearhead the country’s campaign in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Champions Cup slated on September 22 to 30 in Chengzou, China.
National coach Chot Reyes on Tuesday announced the lineup composed mostly of amateur players.
Reyes admitted he did not have enough time to form a formidable team and most of the players in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) are not available.
Also in the squad are Gilas mainstays Reymar Jose, Carl Bryan Cruz and Almond Vosotros while first-timers are the Teng brothers, Jeron and Jeric, LA Revilla, Norbert Torres, Alfrancis Tamsi and Jett Manuel.
Reinforcing the squad are Congolese Rod Ebondo of Centro Escolar University and naturalization prospect 7’1 Isaiah Austin although Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) are still working on their visas.
“The biggest challenge was the time. We have a very short in time and very limited players are available because the PBA is ongoing,” Reyes told the media in a press conference on Tuesday at the Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center in Pasig City.
“And then we have injuries on Christian Standhardinger and Ray-Ray Parks who couldn’t make it. That’s part of the challenge but we’re used to it. We put a very interesting team,” he added.
Austin, a former standout Baylor University, is expected to lead the charge for the team along with Ebondo.
And Austin accepted the challenge.
“Like what I said, I played with the best of the best and great NBA (National Basketball Association) players and I don’t have any problem holding my own against anybody. I’m a very aggressive player. I will do whatever coach told me to do,” said Austin.
In case the visas of Austin and Ebondo failed to meet the deadline, Reyes has placed Andre Paras and Gab Banal as reserves.
The team will leave for China on Wednesday afternoon.
The Philippines is in Bracket A and will face BC Astana of Kazakhstan in the opener on Friday, Sarreyyet Ramallah of Lebanon on the 23rd and Mono Vimpires of Thailand on the 26th.