Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fonacier, Reyes to join Smart Gilas

Source : Joey Villar (The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines - Smart Gilas Pilipinas is tapping two more Talk n Text players in Larry Fonacier and Ryan Reyes to backstop its campaign in next week’s pocket tournament in Doha, Qatar after Dondon Hontiveros quit the team and with Chris Tiu and JV Casio hounded by injuries.
Fonacier and Reyes were recently added to the Smart Gilas roster and according to reports, their Qatar visas are now being processed in time for the Doha meet slated Aug. 24-29.

Casio and Tiu have begged off for the Doha tournament due to injuries that slowed them down in the last week’s Jones Cup where the Filipinos ended up third.

Hontiveros, meanwhile, cited fatigue and the need to focus on Barako Bull’s campaign in the coming PBA season in withdrawing from the national team.

Coach Rajko Toroman has confirmed Hontiveros’ withdrawal.

Casio missed the last few games of Smart Gilas in the Jones Cup because of a swollen left knee while Tiu sprained his left ankle in the duel for third place against Chinese Taipei.

Toroman said the final roster to the Doha joust, which includes Lebanon, Syria and the host, is being finalized at presstime.

“We still haven’t decided, maybe tonight (last night),” said Toroman.

TnT’s Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams and Ranidel de Ocampo are expected to see action in Doha.

Toroman also said Casio will return to practice only after Doha or two weeks before the FIBA-Asia Championship slated Sept. 15-25 in Wuhan, China which stakes a lone berth in next year’s London Olympics.

Tiu, who also decided to stay with Smart Gilas and forego his plan to join the PBA rookie draft, said he wants to play in Doha although it will depend on his doctors.

“I don’t know if I could play because my doctor is still evaluating my ankle. I was advised though to rest it until Aug. 28,” said Tiu. “But I would love to join the Doha trip and see and study how Jimmy, Kelly and Ranidel play.”

Casio, one of the Smart Gilas mainstays who applied for the draft, said he’s still willing to stay with the national team.

“My joining the draft was my decision even before Gilas announced the program extension,” said Casio. “I’m also for unity between SBP, Smart Gilas and the PBA in forming the best team every time there’s an international competition to show that we’re really the best in Asia.

“So anytime my services will be needed by the national team, I’ll always be very willing to join them. Right now, my focus is with the team as we prepare for the FIBA-Asia, which is really our goal as we look forward to making it to the Olympics,” Casio said.

Asi Taulava of Meralco are also joining the trip along with naturalized 6-10 center Marcus Douthit.

The fate of Mark Barroca, Marcio Lassiter, Mac Baracael, Chris Lutz, Dylan Ababou and Jason Ballesteros, who all applied for the draft, remains uncertain.

Smart Gilas the other day named Tiu, Casio, Lassiter, Lutz and Douthit as spearheads of the team vying for a berth in the 2014 FIBA World Championship.

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