By Jonas Terrado

Gilas Pilipinas got an additional frontcourt support in preparation for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers after Justin Chua took part in Sunday’s practice at the Meralco Gym in Ortigas.

Phoenix Pulse's Justin Chua fires a jumper against NorthPort's Mo Tautuaa. (PBA Images)

Phoenix Pulse’s Justin Chua took part in Gilas Pilipinas’ preparation for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers Sunday night. (PBA Images)

The Phoenix Pulse big man participated in the session which focused mostly on drills after accepting Gilas’ offer to make up for the pullout of PBA stars Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar and Mac Belo for various reasons.

Interim coach Mark Dickel is hoping that Chua can be able to ease the burden now carried by Poy Erram and Isaac Go, the other big men part of the original 24-man pool.

“It’s really important that we have to cover for Poy and George (Go),” so thankfully he (Chua) heeded the call and came when we asked him so,” Dickel said. “It’s great to have him here.”

However, there’s still no word if Chua will be allowed by FIBA to be eligible to suit up in the Feb. 20 home match against Thailand and the Feb. 23 road encounter with Indonesia.

Chua was not included in the pool submitted by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas last month.

Team manager Gabby Cui has yet to respond to queries regarding the situation as of posting time, but Dickel and Gilas program director Tab Baldwin is approaching it as if Chua can suit up for the upcoming window.

“My understanding is that he is here, he can be a part of the pool and play in the games,” said Dickel.

Chua didn’t hesitate when Cui called him up Saturday afternoon to bring him up Gilas’ interest. The 6-foot-6 lefty initially thought that he was traded since Cui also serves as team manager of TNT KaTropa.

“Akala ko natrade nanaman ako,” said Chua, who has played for six teams since his PBA debut in 2013. “So pagsagot ko, he invited me to come over and practice and be part of the pool. I was really excited kasi tagal ko na pangarap maglaro talaga for Gilas.”

The former Ateneo standout averaged 7.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.69 blocks in 39 games with Phoenix last season.

Source: Manila Bulletin