After Gilas ‘stint,’ Cu, Gumaru boost Kings options

Ralph Cu ison the rise.

Ralph Cu is on the rise. —PBA IMAGES

The spotlight falls bright on superstar players, so coach Tim Cone made sure the efforts of Ralph Cu and Donald Gumaru wouldn’t go unnoticed.

The two Barangay Ginebra reserves were practice players for Gilas Pilipinas in the recent window of the 2025 Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup Qualifier and Cone said their efforts not only helped the national team, but their careers as well.

“They practiced harder than anybody else out there,” Cone told the Inquirer on the night that he received awards for Best Performance by a Coach and Best Performance by a Team for Gilas.

And he said those efforts will translate into stronger performances by the two for the Gin Kings.

“They’re gonna get better for Ginebra with the confidence they got practicing with Gilas,” he said.

Already, Cu has proved his coach right.

Player of the game

Cu’s added confidence was in full display when he was named player of the game in Ginebra’s 102-92 win over Phoenix in the PBA Philippine Cup. The rookie tallied a total of 12 points in 18 minutes off the bench. Cu said he aims to “make the most out of the opportunities” given to him by Cone.

“Hopefully, I can be consistent,” he said.

With Cu on the rise, it is only a matter of time before Gumaru follows his teammate. The Gin Kings face the Meralco Bolts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, with Cone knowing he has extra options outside of his regular rotation.

Cu, a 27-year-old forward, and Gumaru, a 31-year-old guard, were teammates for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA 3×3 league before they were elevated to the team’s PBA roster.

Cone invited both to be part of the Gilas practices instead of asking superstar players who would not make the final roster to join.

“Superstar players don’t want to be practice players,” Cone said. “They may say they want to be it, but when it comes down to it, they’re not going to bring a lot of chemistry to the team.”

“[Cu and Gumaru] were absolutely thrilled to be practice players on the national team,” Cone said.

Cone noted how Cu even waved off his thank-you’s for participating in the training.

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“He said, ‘You shouldn’t thank me. I should be thanking you for the confidence that I got playing there.’”