COACH Tim Cone expects young gun Kevin Quiambao to blossom fully as he joins Gilas Pilipinas in its four-year journey.

The 22-year-old Mr. Quiambao, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) MVP from champion De La Salle University, is the youngest player and only non-pro who cracked Mr. Cone’s “Gilas 12” roster that he intends to keep intact.

“He will grow through these four years, older, smarter, and that’s the idea of getting a young player like that (for the program),” Mr. Cone said in The Big Story on One News.

Mr. Quiambao’s versatility, the multi-titled mentor shared, is what earned him a spot alongside battle-scarred Gilas veterans June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, CJ Perez, Jamie Malonzo, Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, Carl Tamayo and Kai Sotto with Justin Brownlee.

“This kid is versatile. He asked me on the phone ‘am I going to play 3 or 4, coach?’ I said Kevin, you’re going to play 1, 2, 3, 4, wherever we have a need you ‘coz you have that versatility in your game and we can use you wherever we need you to be,” he added.

Mr. Quiambao already got his first taste of action for Gilas men last year during the windows for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. He played four games and averaged 3.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Mr. Cone’s newly-formed bunch hits the gym on Feb. 15 — a week before the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ tip off match against host Chinese Taipei.

Gilas is hoping to have Mr. Brownlee on board by then after skipping basketball activities since his positive doping result in the Asian Games last October.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Erika Dy said they expect to hear from the FIBA soon, optimistic the minimum suspension of three months will be retroactively meted, which she calculated should end on Feb. 8.

Aside from Mr. Brownlee, Mr. Cone anticipates Mr. Malonzo to be good to go for the Feb. 22 road gig after sustaining a knee injury in Game 3 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semis against San Miguel Beer last Sunday.

“Good news is we have some MRI results and there was no structural damage,” said Mr. Cone of Mr. Malonzo’s situation.

“We’re so relieved. We’re pretty sure it was going to be ACL but the plate showed everything was intact and he could be back within 10 days or so. So he could be available for the (February) window.” — Olmin Leyba