The Alaska Aces have allowed rookie Carl Bryan Cruz to train full-time for Gilas Pilipinas despite not being named as a member of the squad’s final lineup for the SEABA Championship.
Aces coach Alex Compton said Cruz isn’t required to attend Alaska practices and games while the national team is preparing for the SEABA tilt that will tip off next week.
“Coach Chot (Reyes) was asking for Bryan Cruz to continue along with Gilas because he needs him for practice. We will support that need wholeheartedly,” Compton wrote in a text message.
Despite missing Cruz and Calvin Abueva, a member of Gilas Pilipinas’ final lineup, Compton understood that sacrifices have to be made to help the national team achieve its goal.
“Bryan and Calvin will not play against Ginebra because we are committed to supporting Gilas,” said Compton who last year served as a Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach.
“I know playing for Gilas Pilipinas is a higher calling. It is an honor for Bryan and opportunities like this don’t come everyday. Being a practice player for Gilas is an honor and we are happy for Bryan and hope Gilas can make the country proud.
“I told Calvin not to worry about Alaska because we can take care of ourselves and he needs to focus on Gilas.”
Cruz, for his part, is thankful for the opportunity.
“As a player, masarap pa rin na makasama as a practice player para ma-improve ko sarili ko, matulungan teammates ko at para rin sa bayan,” Cruz said.
Cruz is only one of the five Gilas Pilipinas rookies who showed up at practice on Tuesday night. Kevin Ferrer, Mike Tolomia, Fonzo Gotladera and Von Pessumal also served as extra bodies Gilas Pilipinas needs as its buildup goes in full gear.
“They’re not required to be here. They’re doing this voluntarily,” Reyes told reporters. “It’s very important as we prepare, we have good practice players to simulate what the other team is trying to do.”