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GILAS PILIPINAS FINAL 12 NAMED

Not surprisingly, late pool addition Beau Belga ended up the last cut in the 12-man final lineup coach Chot Reyes named to don the country’s colors in the coming 27th FIBA Asia Championship.

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Making the cast are big men Marcus Douthit, Junmar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo and Marc Pingris, wing men Gary David, Jeff Chan, Larry Fonacier and Gabe Norwood, and guards Jayson Castro, LA Tenorio and Jimmy Alapag.

Douthit, De Ocampo, David, Chan, Fonacier, Norwood and LA Tenorio are holdovers from the Gilas squad that reigned supreme in the 2012 Jones Cup in Taipei while Fajardo, Aguilar, Pingris, Castro and Alapag are those who joined the pool at the resumption of its training at the end of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

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Belga was just called in belatedly to take over from injury-stricken Sonny Thoss as Gilas Pilipinas underwent a boot camp in Lithuania.

Nonetheless, the national coach had a hard time making the “big decision” on the eve of the deadline for submission of 12-man lineup for the FIBA Asia event.

“Beau Belga: the ultimate professional. Tough to tell him. But in the end he understood whats best for the team. Dakila ka (Belga),” tweeted Reyes from Napier, New Zealand after making the decision.

Reyes decided on his Final 12 Thursday before starting their six-game grind in the Kiwi land.

The Nationals play the Hawkes Bay Hawks Friday and Saturday, the NBL All Stars Sunday, the Wellington Saints Tuesday, the Auckland Rangers Wednesday and the Tall Blacks (New Zealand national team) Thursday.

Belga, drawing second look from the Gilas coaching staff after his good performances in the last PBA All-Star Game and in an exhibition game versus the Shanghai Sharks, gamely accepted his fate.

“Salamat coach. Thank you din sa pagtitiwala,” said Belga on his own twitter account.

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The 6-foot-6 Rain or Shine enforcer drew praises from a lot of people.

A product of Philippine Christian U in the NCAA, Belga has had his stints with the national team in Southeast Asian basketball while still with Harbour Centre in the PBL.

He was a part of the gold-medal winning Phl team in the 2006 SEABA Champions Cup and in the 2007 Nakhon Ratchasima SEA Games.

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