What next for Gilas Pilipinas with Chris Ross, Kevin Alas among quintet added to Asian Games pool?

San Miguel Beermen guard Chris Ross is among five inclusions that Gilas Pilipinas have added to their training pool for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. PBA Media Bureau

Chris Ross, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino, Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez are the new members of the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the Hangzhou Asian Games, coach Tim Cone announced on Tuesday.

Speaking at a hastily-arranged press conference at the PBA headquarters in Quezon City, Cone said the new names are in response to the likely rejection of Philippines' appeal to include Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins, Terrence Romeo and Mo Tautuaa in the official lineup for the quadrennial games.

Additionally, RR Pogoy has begged off due to an undisclosed medical condition.

"We've heard that the answer is 'no'," Cone said with regard to the appeal to include the four, who were not part of the updated 37-man list that was submitted to the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC).

It is unclear who submitted the new list and, when asked, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said that was "immaterial".

The 37-man list is apart from the original 60-man lineup submitted in July. Romeo, Tautuaa and alternate Stanley Pringle are part of the former but not among the latter.

"Five days ago, we were told that there was another list that was submitted. a list of 37 players, and Mo and Terrence and Pringle were not on that list," Cone said.

Of the 37 names on the new list, only six were available. Cone chose Ross, Alas, Tolentino, Perez and Lassiter.

Gilas team manager Alfrancis Chua said he secured the commitment of the new players on Monday night.

Cone said he requested for Abueva and Perkins because they initially thought adding new names to the original list wouldn't be a problem. The two, he felt, were the best players to replace injured forwards Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and Jamie Malonzo.

"We were given a list of 60 players, 30 of which were PBA players. The other half were players from Japan, UAAP, NCAA. So that was the list in which we first worked on," Cone explained.

"I felt that we needed more balance in the lineup. So I requested if possible to include Calvin Abueva and Jason Perkins on that list.

"In the beginning it was like, 'Yeah we should be able to do that. It shouldn't be a problem'."

When it became clear that the request faced an uphill climb, the coaching staff took another look at the new list and picked the five, who joined the team in practice at the Inspire Academy in Laguna on Tuesday morning.

Organizers have not officially rejected the Philippines' request yet, according to Cone, which is why Abueva and the others are still practicing with the team in Laguna.

New but not really new guys

Chua said that Lassiter was the top choice to replace Pogoy as the team's designated outside shooter.

He last played in the Asian Games in 2010 on the Gilas team that placed 6th in Guangzhou. He and Ross both played for Cone in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and on the Gilas team that won SEA Games gold in Phnom Penh earlier this year.

Tolentino was also a member of the 2023 SEA Games team, and a former player of Cone at Barangay Ginebra.

"We took Ross and Lassiter because they did have a little bit of feel for us in the SEA Games," Cone shared. "We didn't go into the triangle system as much back in the SEA Games in 2019.

"We're doing a little bit more if it now, so that's new to them. But the defensive philosophy and system and techniques that we do, they're very familiar with that."

"Arvin has been in the triangle and he knows it. It's just more of a refresher for him. So he should be able to fit in pretty seamlessly."

Perez was originally not on this Gilas pool after he left for a vacation in Japan immediately after the FIBA World Cup and his availability became questionable, but has since returned to reclaim his spot in the roster.

Meanwhile, Alas is the only player who has not played for Cone, although he has represented Gilas in numerous occasions in the past.

"CJ's been with me in the World Cup, so again we aren't running the offensive system that we were running there, but the defensive system is very similar to what we're running there, so he won't lose a beat also," Cone added.

"(It will be) a little harder for Kevin (to get used to the system). But the thing about Kevin -- he's a coach's son. Coaches' sons see the game really well.

"They pick up things really fast, and so I'm not so concerned about Kevin because his dad has taught him how to be a basketball player. And that's what you've got to be in in the triangle. You've got to be a basketball player."

The five players, though, are all either wings or guards, shrinking the Gilas frontline significantly. Cone said they tried to add another big man, but the lone center on the 37-man list who is from the PBA and thus available -- Christian Standhardinger -- declined the invitation.

"We asked him multiple times," Cone said. "He doesn't feel he's in good shape. He's come from a vacation. He's been out for a couple of months now.

"He didn't play in the PBA On Tour, and so he's been out for a quite a while, since the Southeast Asian Games. And he already voiced his retirement (from Gilas), so he chose not to."

The two lists

The PBA released copies of the two lists to the media, even as officials at the press conference were evasive about the origin of the second.

The original one, with 60 players, contained 30 PBA players and 30 others from an assortment of leagues both here and abroad. Among them were naturalized players Justin Brownlee, Ange Kouame, Andray Blatche and Jordan Clarkson and "candidates for naturalization" Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okonwu.

The newer 37-man list had 17 PBA players, plus naturalized players Brownlee, Clarkson, and Kouame and incoming rookie Schonny Winston. The rest were composed of players based in Japan, Taiwan and Korea plus college players Michael and Ben Phillips, Mason Amos, Jerom Lastimosa and Kevin Quiambao.

Among the PBA players on the 37-man list, ten are in the pool while five -- Pogoy, Malonzo, Ganuelas-Rosser, Jeremiah Gray, and Poy Erram -- are injured. The other two are Standhardinger and Meralco Bolts guard Aaron Black.