Over the past few days, Gilas Pilipinas has been struggling to find a big man who can fill the shoes of Angelo Kouame.
In the final game of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers’ first round, the Philippines only fielded 10 healthy bodies.
However, prior to their game against New Zealand last Friday, Gilas program director Chot Reyes had been burning the lines in search of a big man.
And some of the players he called were the likes of Mason Amos and Greg Slaughter.
It is unknown whether FIBA cleared Amos as a local. However, for Slaughter’s end, he declined the invitation.
And it’s because the 34-year-old big man shared that it was because of him having previous commitments he could not cancel.
“I reached out to Coach Chot [Reyes] back in April asking to play for Gilas but he only reached out a few days before the games,” Slaughter said in an interview.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it anymore by the time they let me know.”
Slaughter is presently a restricted free agent in the PBA after opting not to re-sign with Northport when his contract expired last February 1.
The former PBA Best Player of the Conference has been keeping in shape as he is working with a 16-year NBA veteran trainer.
Still, Slaughter, whose last Gilas appearance was back in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, is grateful for the callup and said that he is committed to the national team.
“I’m glad we are communicating now and have told them I would love to play in the SEA Games and World Cup next year.”
Nevertheless, Gilas Pilipinas will only have 10 healthy bodies when they take on India to close out the third window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Dave Ildefonso has been ruled out of the game after sustaining a knee injury he suffered from the Philippines’ road game against New Zealand last Thursday.
Ildefonso got two rebounds in just six minutes of action against the Tall Blacks.
The 6-foot winger also missed the 2022 KB Kookmin Bank Invitational last month due to an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, Carl Tamayo will play through the right ankle sprain he sustained against the Tall Blacks.
Completing Gilas are Kiefer Ravena, Dwight Ramos, William Navarro, SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, Geo Chiu, Francis Lopez, Kevin Quiambao, and Rhenz Abando.
The young and short-handed Gilas crew will take on a complete India team racing to get its first win in the qualifiers.
Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Muin Bek Hafeez, Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon, Prashant Singh Rawat, and Pranav Prince will lead India.
Rounding up India are Amarendra Navak, Deepak Choudhary, Pratyanshu Tomar, Aryan, Lalit, Vivek Vinubhai Goti, and Arvind Kumar.
Gilas are 1-2 in Group A while India is 0-3. Both teams are still assured of a spot in Group E after South Korea was disqualified.