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New PBA draftees, Window 2 core join Sotto, Kouame in Gilas' 'Final 15'

The Gilas Pilipinas squad as it arrived at the Quest Hotel in Mabalacat for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers Angeles bubble. Paolo Barcelon/CNN Philippines (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Three recently drafted PBA players plus some key players from Gilas Pilipinas' Manama bubble lineup make up the bulk of Gilas' 15-man pool that entered the Angeles bubble for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Jordan Heading, Will Navarro, and Jaydee Tungcab, who were selected last March through the special Gilas round, were included in the Gilas pool.

Only Tzaddy Rangel missed the cut among the PBA draftees.

Returning to Gilas duties are Balti Baltazar, Mike Nieto, Dwight Ramos, Isaac Go, and Javi Gomez De LiaƱo, who were included in the national team pool for the second window of the ACQ in Bahrain's capital city.

Navarro and Tungcab were also in Gilas' Window 2 lineup.

Completing the lineup are senior team rookies Kai Sotto, Ange Kouame, Carl Tamayo, LeBron Lopez, RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel, and Geo Chiu.

Kouame was also included in Gilas' Manama pool, but the situation in his naturalization bid that time forced him to sit out Gilas' two-game sweep of Thailand last November.

The current pool will be the main basis of Coach Tab Baldwin's 12-man combination for Gilas' three scheduled clashes in the Angeles bubble from Wednesday to Sunday.

Go has been named the captain of the Gilas squad for the third window, which features two games against South Korea and a match against Indonesia in between.

With five players listed at 6'7" or taller highlighted by Sotto, which is rumored to be 7'4" now, and 6'11" Kouame, this is deemed as the tallest team the Philippine national team has ever assembled.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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