MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas restarted its weekly practices last Monday night, gaining at least a month-long prep time that is hard to come by for the program.
But program director and coach Chot Reyes is the first to hose down any rising excitement with a reality check.
“We just had half of the guys since the players in Japan are not yet here and several players also had to rest,” Reyes told a few reporters on the way out of Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night after watching his TNT survive Phoenix from a distance, 123-119.
“Chris Newsome and Raymond Almazan came from a (Meralco) game the night before, while Jamie Malonzo and Scottie Thompson weren’t back from their (championship) vacation yet,” he added.
Gilas, however, was able to have an early appraisal of three new call-ups and reunite with its towering cornerstone.
“Jerom Lastimosa, Mason Amos, and Schonny Winston were there, so we had a chance to work them out. Of course, June Mar (Fajardo), who we got back into the groove of things,” Reyes said.
Lastimosa, Amos, and Winston are the latest prospects Gilas Pilipinas tapped for the sixth and final of the Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers set next month.
Reyes said that it’s too early to say whether anyone from the three varsity standouts could make the Final 12 against Jordan or Lebanon but he was glad to see and get an idea of how they fit with what the program intends to build down the line.
“We barely did anything. Just walkthroughs of some stuff. It’s too early to tell,” he said. “Though we already know what those guys can do, we just want to see how they will fit.”
“I think it’s going to be beneficial for them as well—for the players to have that experience,” he said.
Gilas is set to host the streaking Cedars on Feb. 24 and then the Falcons Feb. 27 at the cavernous Philippine Arena using the showcase to identify the players that will make up the roster for the World Cup this August.
Reyes said that Gilas intends to add more days to its preparations for the two home stands as soon as more players become available.
“Around a week before the games, I think that’s the time we’d go (training) every day,” he said.
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