Kobe Paras will not be able to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas men in the third window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers set to be held in February in Clark. Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin told ESPN5.com that Paras currently has "a medical issue," but declined to divulge more information.
Paras was able to play in the Manama, Bahrain bubble of FIBA last November, and contributed an average of 3.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in the Philippines' two-game conquest of Thailand.
The team is currently waiting for the arrival of two other cadets who impressed in Manama, namely Juan Gomez de Liaño and Dwight Ramos. Gomez de Liaño logged averages of 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, while Ramos normed 16.5 markers, 6.0 boards, and 2.5 dimes in the second window.
Gomez de Liaño is set to arrive at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna on Friday. PBA players Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, and Raul Soyud are also expected to join him.
Already inside the bubble are pros Kiefer Ravena, CJ Perez, and Justin Chua, along with Gilas special picks Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt, and Mike Nieto.
Cadets Justine Baltazar, Javi Gomez de Liaño, Dave Ildefonso, Will Navarro, Calvin Oftana, Kemark Cariño, and naturalized player candidate Angelo Kouame arer also in the bubble.
On the other hand, there is still no word on when Ramos will be joining the team.
"Dwight [will join us] after he clears his quarantine duties after returning from the U.S.A. [I'm] not sure of the exact date," explained Baldwin.
Gilas, which is currently atop Group A with a 3-0 card, is preparing to face rivals South Korea on Feb. 18 and 22 and Indonesia on Feb. 20 at the AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center in Angeles City.
Meanwhile, Soyud admitted that he could not believe it at first when he was told that he would be joining the training pool. He recalled on Wednesday's episode of The Game that it was NLEX executive Ronald Dulatre who first brought him the good news.
"It was boss Ronald that told me [the news] after I signed my [contract] extension. He told me, 'Raul, you have an invite from Gilas.' I said, 'Really?'," said Soyud in Filipino.
Doubt initially crept into his mind, but that all went away as the opportunity presented itself.
"[I'm feeling jitters] even now, since when they told me, I got nervous. I asked myself, 'Can I do it?' Then I thought that it would be my chance to learn from the great players of the country. Get new experience."
Soyud said he has met with coach Tab Baldwin and the rest of the team via Zoom. He mentioned that he had not been assigned a role yet and will do whatever the team may need from him.
The former UP Fighting Maroon blossomed inside the PBA bubble in 2020, and was a candidate for Most Improved Player.
He thanked mentor and former Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao for helping him make the pool. "Coach Yeng was the one that gave me a break. That is why I will bring his lessons when I enter the Gilas bubble."