By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

INSTEAD of a mix of amateur and professional players, the Philippine national men’s basketball team seeing action at the 30th Southeast Asian Games here in the country will be composed of players coming from the Philippine Basketball Association.

In a press briefing at the PBA office in Libis, Quezon City, on Thursday following the league’s board meeting, officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the PBA as well as newly appointed Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone bared the names of 15 players from the pros making up the SEA Games roster.

Majority of the players in the pool came from Mr. Cone’s Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings with the rest handpicked by the Gilas think tank.

The reason for the change of tack, Mr. Cone said, was the limited time to prepare by the team with the SEA Games just a little over two months away and with the PBA season still ongoing.

Players making up the pool are LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, Art Dela Cruz and Greg Slaughter from Barangay Ginebra, June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger and Chris Ross from the San Miguel Beermen, Troy Rosario, Jayson Castro and Roger Pogoy from the TNT KaTropa, Vic Manuel from the Alaska Aces, and Matthew Wright from the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters.

“We’re going for familiarity. With limited time to practice, limited time for tryouts we decided to go with such approach. It’s not about getting the best players but forming the best team considering the circumstances that we have,” said Mr. Cone, named new Gilas coach early this week to replace Yeng Guiao, who stepped down from his post after the rough campaign of the Philippines at the recent FIBA World Cup.

Mr. Cone likened the approach to that of the 1994 Philippine team that competed in the Asian Games where the country was represented by the San Miguel team coached by Norman Black and backstopped by players from other teams, namely Alvin Patrimonio and Rey Evangelista of Purefoods and Johnny Abarrientos of Alaska, and Kenneth Duremdes and Marlou Aquino from the amateur ranks.

No amateur players were named to the SEA Games pool as National Collegiate Athletic Association and University Athletic Association of the Philippines season are ongoing.

The team will begin once-a-week practices on Monday and progress to twice-a-week by November.

Present at the press briefing were SBP president Al Panlilio and members of the PBA board led by chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT and league commissioner Willie Marcial.

The SEA Games happens from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.