Tim Cone admits Scottie Thompson will be missed as Gilas going to OQT with 11 men

It's final: Gilas will only have 11 players for the FIBA OQT. Joseph Sanvictores
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--It's final: there will be no injury replacement for Scottie Thompson as Gilas Pilipinas gears up for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

On Monday night, Tim Cone, Thompson's head coach at Gilas and Ginebra, confirmed that the national team will just be 11-man strong for the OQT in Riga from July 2-7.

This effectively doused cold water on the possibility that RR Pogoy, who joined Gilas in practice in Calamba City, Jordan Heading, and Rhenz Abando, who were reportedly offered by Strong Group Athletics, will fill the void left by Thompson.

"Anybody we get is not going to replace Scottie," Cone said following Gilas' tune-up game win against the Taiwan Mustangs at the PhilSports Arena.

The PBA's winningest coach, though, believes that he would still be fine even if Gilas is now down to 11 players.

"I don't feel we're short at all. I'm not a guy who plays 11 or 12 guys, anyway. You know me, guys. I don't play that many guys. I'm really an 8-9-man rotation. The reason you have 12 guys is not necessarily for the game. You have 12 guys in practice. You have extra bodies in case somebody goes down, so I don't feel shorthanded at all," Cone further said.

"They're 11 strong, and they feel, 'We're OK.'"

He did admit, though, that Thompson, who would have been Gilas' primary point guard had he been healthy, would be dearly missed.

"You all know how much I rely on Scottie. He's such an infectious player. He affects the guys around him, he does all the things that don't show up on a scorecard," Cone further said.

With Thompson officially out without a replacement, Gilas will bank more on the court generalship of Dwight Ramos, Chris Newsome, and even Justin Brownlee in the OQT.

Ramos started the Gilas friendly against the Mustangs at the 1-position and led the Nationals in scoring with 19 points.

Brownlee, who was back at his natural shooting guard spot, ended up as the facilitator as he dished out a team-high 15 assists.

Neither Thompson nor Pogoy was in attendance during the game.

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