It’s a dream come true for Meralco guard Aaron Black, who recently learned that he’s part of the 28-man Gilas Pilipinas pool for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia.
The third-year player considers it an honor to be considered for the national squad and is looking forward to practicing with the country’s top players.
If he makes it to the final 12, it will be Black’s first time playing with the men’s national team.
Even if he doesn’t, he’s grateful for the experience of being part of the pool and hopes to learn from everyone there.
Black is the son of Meralco coach Norman Black, who has been a many-time member of the Philippine men’s basketball team coaching staff in the past.
“I’m really excited and it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to grow as a player,” said Black. “I hope to bring back what I learned to Meralco.”
Black is aware of the tough challenge ahead of Gilas in Cambodia, especially after losing the basketball gold to Indonesia in Vietnam where the latter dethroned the Filipinos, 85-81, in their championship match.
The Philippines’ loss ended a 52-game winning streak in the biennial meet, and it marked only the second time they failed to bring home the title since 1989.
It’s worth noting that Aaron’s father, Norman Black, led the Philippine men’s basketball team to the gold medal at the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang when Aaron was just 14 years old.
Meanwhile, Ginebra rookie Jeremiah Gray was also pleasantly surprised to learn that he’s part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool. Gray’s uncle informed him about it and he didn’t have any prior hint that he will get the call-up. The Ginebra player is thrilled to have the opportunity to play for Gilas after recovering from an ACL injury he sustained while playing in the PBA 3×3.
“I’ve always wanted to play for Gilas and the fact that I have the opportunity after coming off an injury, it’s an amazing feeling,” Gray said.
Gray is part of Ginebra’s rotation players this season and hopes to make it to the final 12 for the SEA Games.
He’s one of seven Ginebra players in the pool, led by their resident import Justin Brownlee.
“Very special. It’s cool that we are seven in there with Justin playing for us. It’s very special. We will try to get that gold back. That’s a good feeling and it’s very special,” he said.
As both players gear up for the SEA Games, Filipino basketball fans can look forward to the exciting lineup and the team’s redemption quest in Cambodia.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) earlier released the names of the 28-man Gilas Pilipinas pool for the biennial meet with Brownlee, June Mar Fajardo, and reigning PBA MVP Scottie Thompson leading the cast.
Also on the roster are Mikey Williams, Jamie Malonzo, CJ Perez, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter, Stanley Pringle, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino, and Jeremiah Gray along with frontliners Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger, Poy Erram, Brandon Rosser and Raymond Almazan.
Rookies Deschon Winston, Kevin Quiambao, Mason Amos, Jerom Lastimosa, Michael Phillips, Ben Phillips, and 6-foot-10 Fil-American AJ Edu also made the list.