Gilas desperately wants Abando for Asian Games, sends letter of release to KBL

Will Rhenz Abando make it? (FIBA)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Rhenz Abando might be suiting up for the 2023 Asian Games.

Despite showing uncertainties of playing again for the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team, the former NCAA Rookie Most Valuable Player (MVP) will have a high chance of representing the country after the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) sent a letter of request to the Korean Basketball League (KBL) for his temporary release.

The development was confirmed last September 9, 2023, after Korean basketball website Jumpball announced that Abando will not be with the Anyang KGC in the Preseason tournament of the KBL.

A team official who had an interview with the sports website then revealed that a letter from the PBA arrived which is yet to be discussed within the league and Abando’s mother franchise.

Aside from the KBL, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial also said that they also sent the same letter of request to the Japan B. League, hoping that the overseas professional committee will grant some of the Filipino Asian imports’ release to play for Gilas in the upcoming Asian Games.

Players who are under contracts in the Japan B. League are Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Kai Sotto, AJ Edu, and Dwight Ramos.

Two days ago, newly appointed chief tactician Tim Cone expressed that the national team is currently facing a huge problem regarding their roster formation.

A few holdovers from their FIBA World Cup lineup were the only ones who already committed to the team, namely: June Mar Fajardo, RR Pogoy, Scottie Thompson, and Japeth Aguilar.

Completing the initial pool for the Asian Games are naturalized players Ange Kouame and Justin Brownlee, and the backcourt duo of Chris Newsome and Calvin Oftana.

Alfrancis Chua, Gilas’ team manager, also addressed their current pool woes and announced that they are still not done with the search for the missing pieces for the squad.

“Yung sinubmit nila na names before, mga iba dun, wala sa list e. Mag-rerequest pa kami kung papayag yung Asian Games. This is totally a different team. Mawawala yung mga naglalaro sa Japan at Korea, tapos wala si Clarkson. Totally diffirent ito,” said Chua.