New additions to Gilas pool named

Sol Mercado and Jared Dillinger have been added to the Gilas pool. (PBA Images)

Smart Gilas coach Chot Reyes recently announced the inclusion of PBA stars Sol Mercado, Jared Dillinger, Jeff Chan, JV Casio and Mac Baracael to the national pool as substitutes to some of his original picks who failed to submit a signed letter of commitment to the national team's program.

"These players have been contacted and they expressed their willingness to sign the letter of commitment with the blessing of their respective PBA teams," said Reyes.

Reyes named a 16-man all-PBA pool in March that he described as "deep, versatile and skilled."  However, five of the more notable names in the pool — B-Meg's James Yap and Marc Pingris, and Petron's Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter were unable to send the signed letter of commitment requested by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to date.

The other eleven players in the pool had tendered their commitment letters shortly after they were named - Talk 'N Text's Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, Larry Fonacier, Ryan Reyes, and Kelly Williams, Alaska's LA Tenorio and Sonny Thoss, Powerade's Gary David, Rain or Shine's Gabe Norwood, and Barangay Ginebra's Enrico Villanueva.

Casio and Baracael are the only locals in the pool that were part of the original Gilas team that placed fourth in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship.  Naturalized player Marcus Douthit was likewise part of Gilas I and is expected to join the pool when the training starts.  Mercado also suited up for Gilas in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, while Dillinger played for the national team under coach Yeng Guiao in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship in Tianjin, China.

Also to be revealed soon by the SBP is the Cadet Pool, which will be composed of candidates from the amateur ranks.  Among those likely to be included are Ateneo's Greg Slaughter, FEU's Aldrech Ramos, NU's Bobby Rey Parks, San Beda's Garvo Lanete and former Gilas skipper Chris Tiu.

According to Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, the very first team meeting is scheduled later today to discuss the preparations for the 2013 Asian Championship, where the top three teams will advance to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.  "We will bare details of the program, including schedules of practices, camps, and training tournaments.  Coach Chot will also show them the Road Map to the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships."

"The tournaments this year that the team will be preparing for are the SEABA (qualifier for FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup) in July, the Jones Cup in August, the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup in September, and the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in October.  We will also have an exhibition game in June against the Shanghai Sharks," added Antonio.

Earlier this month, a bill was filed in Congress seeking to grant Philippine citizenship to NBA star JaVale McGee, who reportedly has expressed interest to play for Gilas as a naturalized player.