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Belangel, Ramos, Sotto, Kouame headline Gilas 'Final 12' for OQT

Kai Sotto is among the headliners in Gilas' lineup for the FIBA OQT in Belgrade. FIBA/Paul Ryan Tan (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The main men during Gilas Pilipinas' 3-0 sweep of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers Angeles bubble will be back in action as the national team heads to Belgrade for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Towering centers Kai Sotto and Ange Kouame made the "Final 12" as announced by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas on Thursday.

Coach Tab Baldwin actually placed the seven-foot-three Sotto and 6-foot-11 Kouame together as Gilas starters against China in a tune-up match on Wednesday night at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center that ended in a 79-all draw.

Meanwhile, Dwight Ramos, who displayed consistency all throughout the Angeles bubble, also made the Final 12.

SJ Belangel, the hero in Gilas' first win against South Korea during the bubble last week, was also inserted to Gilas' OQT lineup.

Completing the roster are RJ Abarrientos, Balti Baltazar, Geo Chiu, Isaac Go, Jordan Heading, Will Navarro, Mike Nieto, and Carl Tamayo.

Javi Gomez De Liano, Jaydee Tungcab, and Lebron Lopez, who also got to play during the Angeles bubble, will be taking a backseat for the meantime.

Gilas will be heading to Belgrade on Thursday night ahead of the OQT.

Gilas will first take on host country Serbia on July 1 (Philippine Time) before battling Dominican Republic the day after.

Gilas must finish inside the Top 2 in its group to qualify for the semifinals.

The winner of the Belgrade OQT will join the other OQT champs in completing the cast for the Tokyo Olympics men's basketball event.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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