FIT-again Matt Nieto and Rey Suerte are back suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas after cracking the 15-man crew now in Amman, Jordan for the King Abdullah Cup.
The two PBA Gilas draftees are coming off injuries that cost them possible slots in the national team rosters that competed in the last FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga, and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.
Suerte is back from a sprained ankle, while Nieto just recovered from a broken hand which both of them suffered while in training camp at the Inspire Sports Academy bubble in Calamba, Laguna.
They are both part of the 2019 Gilas special draft, with Suerte being tapped at no. 2 by Blackwater and Nieto picked by NLEX at no. 3.
But the two are obviously back in physical harness to get the nod of head coach Tab Baldwin to be included in the final roster for the King's Cup tournament that officially gets going on Monday.
Suerte and Nieto are two of six special draftees who earned Gilas spots for the Amman tournament along with Jordan Heading, William Navarro, Isaac Go, and Mike Nieto.
Heading was Terrafirma's top pick in the 2020 draft, Navarro was no.2 in the same batch for NorthPort, Go was no.1 for Blackwater in the draft the previous year, while Nieto belongs to the same 2019 batch selected no.5 by Rain or Shine.
Three other special draftees were also considered for the 15-man pool, but failed to make the cut in Tzaddy Rangel (2020 NLEX), Jaydee Tungcab (2020 TnT Tropang Giga), and Allyn Bulanadi (2019 Alaska).
Gilas opens its campaign against Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia, Jordan-B, Tunisia, and Jordan-A.
The tournament comes handy for the national team especially after the FIBA Asia Cup set for next month in Jakarta was postponed for next year following the current surge of COVID-19 cases in the Indonesian capital. (RG)