The cavalry has arrived for a Gilas Pilipinas pool wanting in big men.
Gilas team manager Gabby Cui on Tuesday confirmed that Alaska frontliners Vic Manuel and Abu Tratter are joining the pool gearing up for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers against Thailand on February 20 and Indonesia on February 23.
Together with Phoenix Pulse's Justin Chua, the 6-foot-4 Manuel and the 6-foot-7 Tratter completed the troika of new-arrived bigs for the Nationals, who were hit by withdrawals from NorthPort's Christian Stanhardinger, Blackwater's Mac Belo and Barangay Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar.
Standhardinger and Belo begged off to continue rehab on their injured knee while Aguilar declined so he can go on his honeymoon.
The new additions join the original cast of Poy Erram, Isaac Go, Marc Pringis, and Troy Rosario in the front court of the 24-man Gilas pool, which also includes fellow pros as well as standouts from the collegiate ranks.
If he cracks the final roster, this would be Chua's maiden appearance for Gilas. Years ago, while still with Ateneo, Chua served as a reserve for the Phl quintet that retained the 2011 Southeast Asian Games title.
For Manuel and Tratter, this could be their second outings.
Manuel had his Gilas debut last December in the SEA Games on home soil, where he played a key role in the Nationals' 13th straight gold medal feat. The PBA's 'Muscleman' averaged 15.6 points and 4.2 rebounds for the all-pro squad of coach Tim Cone, who rightfully predicted that Manuel would be a dominant force against ASEAN rivals.
Tratter, on the other hand, previously donned the national colors in 2018. The former La Salle star backed up naturalized player Andray Blatche and five-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo as they played Australia in the second window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers back in February 2018 in Melbourne. He scored two points in four minutes of action as Phl lost to the host Aussies, 68-84. (OL)