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2023 FIBA World Cup

'Deepest cut': Chot Reyes recalls difficult decision in forming Gilas Final 12

Out of the 16-man Gilas Pilipinas pool, only 12 players were chosen to represent the country in the 2023 FIBA World Cup set to be co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia across four venues.

For head coach Chot Reyes, breaking the news to Thirdy Ravena, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, and Ray Parks — the ones who didn't make the final cut — was probably one of the difficult jobs he had to do.

The Gilas coach recalled the day he had to make that talk to the four players and stressed he made it as a commitment to himself to personally deliver the unfortunate development.

"I was very subdued after practice because I told them the coaching staff is about to make a very tough decision but it falls on me to deliver the news and the way I like to do it is that I called the players themselves," Reyes said on Thursday during a press conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"That's my commitment to the players. They're not going to find out about it on social media or from any other person but from me. I talked to Thirdy personally, I made a call myself to Ray, Calvin, and to Chris. I called them all."

Ravena and Parks didn't see any single minute of action during Gilas Pilipinas' final three-game tuneup clashes against Ivory Coast, Montenegro, and Mexico, signs pointing that the two won't be part of the final lineup. Oftana, too, missed the first two friendlies but suited up in the final game against the Mexicans.

Newsome, on the other hand, was actually included in the lineup in all three games. In fact, the Meralco Bolts guard remains in attendance during Gilas practices and was seen joining the team train on Wednesday night at the Big Dome.

Reyes said the four cagers, who have been with Gilas since opening camp for the global cagefest, were integral part of the program and added that they didn't do anything wrong not to get a spot in the final roster.



"Very difficult. I like to call it the deepest cut. Really difficult. Some guys we had to cut were there from day one," Reyes said.

"So it was difficult for us and like I told them, it's not because of what they did wrong or what they lack, it's just we had to make a choice. In the end, we had 16 guys and we could only choose 12."

"For me, that's really a coach's most difficult job."

The final 12 of Gilas Pilipinas is composed of Rhenz Abando, Japeth Aguilar, Jordan Clarkson, AJ Edu, June Mar Fajardo, Jamie Malonzo, CJ Perez, RR Pogoy, Dwight Ramos, Kiefer Ravena, Kai Sotto, and Scottie Thompson.

Gilas will open their campaign in the FIBA World Cup on Friday against Dominican Republic at the Philippine Arena. They will play Angola on August 27 and Italy on August 29.

—JKC, GMA Integrated News