Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto banner Tim Cone's Gilas
MANILA (Philippines) - Familiar faces banner the Philippines' small yet loaded talent pool for the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers' opening window in February.
In a statement released Monday, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) unveiled that Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto, and June Mar Fajardo lead the roster.
Scottie Thompson, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, CJ Perez, Jamie Malonzo, AJ Edu, Carl Tamayo, and Kevin Quiambao complete the pool.
Coaching the team that's made up mostly of players that suited up for Gilas in the last FIBA Basketball World Cup, meanwhile, will be Tim Cone.
"I’m looking forward to taking on the role of national team head coach again,” Cone, the only coach with 25 titles in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), said in a statement.
Tim Cone during the 19th Asian Games. (Photo credit: POC-PSC Media Group)
His appointment came months after steering the Philippines to its first Asian Games men's basketball gold medal in 61 years, where they beat Jordan in the final.
"Coach Tim accomplished what has not been done in decades with only a few weeks to prepare and multiple challenges in terms of personnel," SBP President Al Panlilio said.
"So we’re excited to see what he can accomplish with a long-term program in place especially if such program is supported by all basketball stakeholders," he added.
This will be his fourth stint as head coach of the national team. He was at the helm of the storied RP-Centennial Team that won bronze in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games and also led the gold-medal-winning Gilas squad in the Southeast Asian Games 21 years later.
"I’ve always firmly believed from back in 1998 when I coached the Centennial Team that you’ve got to go out and get the best players in the country to represent us," Cone said.
Taking over the coaching reins previously held by Chot Reyes, Cone will have himself a busy stretch ahead. Aside from the Asia Cup Qualifiers, the Philippines will also be competing in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia on 2-7 July.
But the focus, for now, is the upcoming Asia Cup Qualifiers, where Gilas are pooled in Group B together with New Zealand, who are 21st in the FIBA World Ranking presented by NIKE, and old foes Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong.
The co-hosts of the last World Cup, the Philippines, will start their journey back to the Asia Cup against Hong Kong on the road on 22 February before hosting Chinese Taipei on the 25 February.
Gilas are raring to get back into the prestigious continental showpiece to seek redemption. They missed the Quarter-Finals and ended up in ninth place - a disappointing run for a proud program that made it to the Final in 2013 and 2015.
Like the previous Asia Cup cycle, the 24 teams will be divided into 6 groups of 4. Each team plays the other 3 teams on a home-and-away basis over 3 windows, with 2 games per window.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup 2025, making a total of 12 teams. The six 3rd-place teams from each group, meanwhile, will play in a final qualifying tournament. The top four teams from this tilt will reach the quadrennial continental conclave.