For the first time since the program’s inception, the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national squad will be going on a tournament without Chris Tiu, the team’s long-time team captain.
Tiu was not among those selected in the lineup for SMART-Gilas, which will compete in the William Jones Cup in Taipei beginning on August 18.
“I will surely miss playing for the Philippine team. I wish I can be in their position, but I wasn’t given the opportunity this time,” Tiu wrote in a text message to InterAKTV.
The former Ateneo stalwart actually passed up on the chance to join the PBA last year in the hopes of continuing to play for SMART-Gilas full-time. But changes in the program, including the inclusion of a pool of PBA players, left him out of the lineup.
PBA stars Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, Larry Fonacier, Sonny Thoss, LA Tenorio, Mac Baracael, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Enrico Villanueva, Gary David, and Sol Mercado will banner the team alongside naturalized center Marcus Douthit, former San Beda sharpshooter Garvo Lanete, and Filipino-American point guard Matthew Rosser.
Chot Reyes, formerly of Talk ‘N Text, will make his return at the sidelines for the national team, replacing Rajko Toroman, with whom Tiu was known to have a good relationship.
But Tiu is already looking forward to the next phase of his career. As one of the 71 applicants for Sunday’s rookie draft, he is expected to be picked in the first round. For now, he wishes SMART-Gilas all the best.
“I have to move on. I wish our Kuyas all the luck for the Jones Cup. Make us proud.”