AJ Edu relishes chance to make Gilas Pilipinas’ World Cup final roster

AJ Edu Gilas


MANILA, Philippines—AJ Edu is one of the players vying for a spot in Gilas Pilipinas’ finals roster for the Fiba World Cup later this month.

Edu said it has been a dream come true to be part of a team that will compete in the Fiba World Cup, one of the biggest events in the sport, made special by the fact that the Philippines is one of the hosts.

“It was always a dream. To be doing it now is pretty surreal, amazing. I have to pinch myself now and then, just to be part of the team preparing for the World Cup,” the Cypriot-born Filipino bruiser told Noli Eala’s Power and Play on Saturday.

Edu, who recently signed with Toyama Grousers in the Japan B.League, says playing with Gilas has allowed him to explore his game more.

“Personally for me, I’m enjoying it a lot more. In Toledo, my role was a little bit more restricted. But with Gilas, I have a certain amount of freedom which gives me a lot of confidence to really express my game,” Edu said.

National team coach Chot Reyes is expected to announce the Final 12 on the eve of the Filipinos’ World Cup opener and the big man admitted that he would be disappointed if he doesn’t make the cut.

But that disappointment wouldn’t last long.

“Even if you’re not in the final 12, you are part of the journey to get everyone there. The team would have my full support… [I think] there will be an element of disappointment, but at the end of the day, it’s just been a blessing to be part of this pool and this training camp,” said Edu.

“I think we’ve all just built that chemistry and built that teamwork,” he said. “I don’t feel that there will be too much disappointment for whoever makes it and whoever doesn’t.”

Edu’s chances of making the final cut will rely on his height with the team only having a few centers in tow for the string of tough challenges in group stages, where Gilas will face Angola, Dominican Republic and Italy.

Edu, if he makes the Final 12, will be challenged by NBA talent as early as the group stage with Karl Anthony Towns backstopping Dominican Republic.

“I love the challenge. Obviously, these guys are the top of the top. I’m just really relishing the challenge and I’m looking forward to something like that. And it would be amazing against those guys,” he said.

The Samahang Basketbol Pilipinas and coach Chot Reyes have the eve of the World Cup as the tentative date to announce the final composition of Gilas.

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