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Coach Chot puts young Gilas players to the test

MANILA, Philippines – The young ballers who were part of the "23 for 23" – the initial pool of players who may be part of the national team in 2023 – were all smiles on Monday night as they officially received their Gilas Pilipinas practice jerseys.

One by one, the 14 members of the "23 for 23" pool who were present for Monday's practice at the Meralco Gym stepped up to receive their jersey from officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas. Excitedly, they shed their old warm-up gear and put on the blue threads that bore the words "PILIPINAS" in front.

The Gilas Pilipinas pool. Handout photo.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes gave the young guns just enough time to warm up before throwing them into the fire. He allowed them a few minutes to observe their "kuyas" – the full-fledged Gilas members – to run some plays before telling the youngsters to join the fray.

"We are purposely making them do things quickly, because we're trying to see who can pick up very quickly," Reyes explained after the practice.

In a flash, players like Thirdy Ravena, Paul Desiderio, CJ Perez, and Robert Bolick went from observing at the sidelines to giving hand-offs to Gilas legend Jayson Castro and young PBA stars like Jiovani Jalalon and Roger Pogoy. Big men like Isaac Go, Kemark Cariño, and high school player Will Gozum set screens and cut to the rim, receiving passes from Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Allein Maliksi.

And virtually all of them, save for young Gozum, readily took and knocked down three-point shots.

Author: Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News
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