Boost to Gilas

August 6, 2023 Robert Andaya 285 views

HERE’S good news for Gilas Pilipinas basketball fans.

Dominican Republic, one of three countries set to meet the Philippines in the coming World Cup 2023, will be playing without NBA players Al Horford of the Boston Celticsand Chris Duarte of the Sacramento Kings.

Both Horford and Duarte begged off from joining the team, leaving only three-time All-Star Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves as the only legitimate NBA star in the line-up.

Dorde Malesevic of Basketball Sphere, the leading basketball website in Serbia, was the first to break the news on the decision of Horford and Duarte to pull out of the blue-ribbon competition scheduled to kick off in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia later this month.

No reason, however, was given for the sudden withdrawal.

Horford’s absence will likely be welcomed by the Boston Celtics organization and fans given his age and the physical nature of the tournament, according to reports from Celtics Wire.

NBA G League Most Improved Player Lester Quinones, who just signed a two-way contract with Golden State, and Justin Minaya of the Portland Trailblazers are expected to fill up the post vacated by Horford and Duarte.

Quinones erupted for 30 points, including six three pointers as Dominican Republic defeated University of Memphis, 94-91, in a tune-up game at home,.

They will also play Puerto Rico, defending champion Spain, Latvia, and Egypt before going to Manila.

Aside from Anthony-Towns, the other remaining members of the Dominican Republic team are LJ Figueroa, Luis Santos, Antonio Pena, Luis David Montero, Gelvis Solano, Jean Montero, Andres Feliz, Gerardo Suero, Eloy Vargas, Victor Liz, and Rigoberto Mendoza.

The 7-0 Towns, who was selected with the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft by the Timberwolves and was named NBA Rookie of the Year for the 2015-16 season will now carry the fight for Dominican Republic.

The 27-year-old Towns, who was born to an African-American father and a Dominican mother, first played for the Dominican Republic at the 2012 Centrobasket, when he was age 16.

He also represented the Dominican Republic in the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship.

Dominican Republic is in Group A along with Italy and Angola and the Philippines

Dominican Republic and host the Philippines will open their World Cup campaign at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on August 25.

The Filipinos are currently in Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament in Guandong, China where they are currently 1-1 in the theee-team pocket tournament.

The Chot Reyes-mentored Filipinos defeated Iran, 67-56, but lost to Senegal, 64-72, over the weekend.

They will play Senegal and Iran again on Sunday and Monday.