By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team will have a tough time fortifying their frontcourt after Kai Sotto and Japeth Aguilar will not be on the active roster for the final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Gilas’ chief tactician Chot Reyes announced the recent development last February 13, 2023, baring that both national team veterans will not be playing against Lebanon and Jordan.
With only two weeks left to prepare against these two tough teams, Reyes was just put through the grinder who is still looking for the right replacements together with his coaching staff.
Several days ago, Reyes admitted that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) dealt Sotto ‘a very good offer’ to fly back to the Philippines and compete with Gilas.
However, Sotto already signed a fresh contract with the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the Japan B. League and is expecting the young Filipino to deliver right away.
Sotto made it known that his top priority is to make his way into the NBA after failing to get drafted in the last Rookie Draft ceremony.
Meanwhile, Aguilar, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s superstar power forward and a mainstay with Gilas, is still nursing a recurring knee injury.
The high-flying Aguilar also missed a couple of games in the PBA Governor’s Cup and is reportedly in the healing process.
Ginebra’s head coach and Gilas assistant mentor Tim Cone already revealed Aguilar’s status last week during the buildup of their roster for the FIBA February window.
Gilas will be tasked to take down Lebanon on February 24 and will set up a highly-anticipated showdown with Jordan on February 27 to be held at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.