Monday, June 18, 2012

Jong Uichico to coach Smart Gilas "cadet"; Fil-ams join in

Source : AKTV

The SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national program is planning to send its cadet team to represent the country in the qualifying tournament organized by the Southeast Asian Basketball Association for this year’s FIBA Asia Cup, formerly known as the Stankovic Cup.

SMART-Gilas assistant coach Jong Uichico will likely call the shots for the squad, whose lineup is still being finalized.

“I was asked to coach the SMART-Gilas squad composed of cadet players (in the qualifier) this July, but it will also depend if Talk ‘N Text will make it [far in the Governors' Cup] or not,” Uichico told InterAKTV in a telephone interview on Monday.

According to SMART-Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, the team is still finalizing the lineup for the cadet pool. “Because the UAAP and NCAA tournaments are ongoing at that time, and the PBA also has its ongoing tournament, we will ask players who are free from commitment to join the cadet pool,” he said.

Two candidates who might be available are former Ateneo point guard Emman Monfort, who helped the Sinag Pilipinas squad to the gold medal in last year’s Southeast Asian Games, and ex-FEU center Aldrech Ramos, who saw action for the AirAsia Philippine Patriots in the ASEAN Basketball League.

Filipino-American standouts Cliff Hodge and Chris Ellis, who were also part of the Sinag Pilipinas lineup, could be part of the cadet pool, although Antonio raised issues about their paperwork. “We have to remember the policy imposed by FIBA before regarding Fil-Ams. It happened before to Marcio Lassiter,” said Antonio, referring to the case of former SMART-Gilas wingmen Lassiter and Chris Lutz, who were barred from playing in the first few games of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship because of questions about their citizenship documents.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, meanwhile, said naturalized center Marcus Douthit is expected to beef up the squad.

“We have no choice but to win the championship,” he said.


Filipino-American standouts Cliff Hodge and Chris Ellis would not be part of this year’s PBA draft, choosing instead to be part of the SMART-Gilipinas Pilipinas national program’s cadet pool, which will be composed of top amateur basketball players in the country.

The two players will continue to carry the national colors, after helping Sinag Pilipinas win the Southeast Asian Games gold medal last year.

According to SMART-Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, the cadet pool will complement the players from the PBA who are also part of the program.

“The cadet pool will be tasked to represent the country in the SEA Games and Asian Games, while the pro pool will represent the country in the FIBA Asia Championship and hopefully, the FIBA World Cup,” said Antonio.

Other amateur standouts are expected to join the cadet pool, whose roster is still being finalized.

The formation of the pool hearkens to the original batch of SMART-Gilas players from the collegiate ranks. JVee Casio, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Mac Baracael, Mark Barroca, Dylan Ababou, and Jason Ballesteros spent three years with SMART-Gilas before joining the PBA.

Antonio believes it helps both the league and the players.

“Once these amateur players decide to enter the PBA, hinog na hinog na sila. On the PBA’s part, it’s also good for the league dahil handa na rin yung mga rookies. Para na rin silang beterano,” said Antonio.

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