As the 25-man Gilas Pilipinas training pool opened its three-day training camp in Tagaytay City on Tuesday, there was a new face who showed up in the closed-door event.
Allein Maliksi was the last-minute addition in coach Chot Reyes’ army after his original choice, Paul Lee, begged off to join the training pool due to a meniscal tear, an injury that has bothered the former University of the East standout for a long time.
Maliksi was not a bad choice for Gilas as the ex-University of Santo Tomas forward led Star in scoring in the Philippine Cup with 14.20 points per game, 16th in the league.
This will be Maliksi’s first tour of duty for Gilas Pilipinas, which is preparing for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship to be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on May 12 to 18.
The 29-year old forward joined the other players from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) who will vie for a spot for the SEABA tournament.
Reyes, through the livestream of Sprts 5, told the pool that talent alone won’t be the basis of his selection.
“I’ve always said from Day 1 that we are building the best team. We are not assembling the best collection of players. We’re building the best team,” said Reyes, who is returning to at the helm of Gilas squad.
Reyes was responsible in the country’s return to the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) World Cup of Basketball in Spain in 2014 after leading Gilas 5 to a silver-medal finish in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship also held here in Manila.
Reyes added that the first practice turned out well and told the pool members to relish this opportunity.
“Fight ‘till we can’t fight anymore. For our country. Will all our hears,” Reyes posted on his Twitter account after the practice.
Blackwater’s Art dela Cruz was the first casualty of the training camp as he suffered a suspected a torn Achilles tendon.
Excused in Day 1 of the camp were San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra San Miguel Beer, who are both resting after a long playoff run in the Philippine Cup.
GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo was also absent due to illness.
The camp, which will run until Thursday, aims to build camaraderie among the players and for the newcomers to get a taste of Reyes’ system.