MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas resumed their weekly practices last Monday night, bringing at least a month-long preparation time that is hard to come by for the program.
But program director and coach Chute Reyes is the first to temper any growing enthusiasm with a reality check.
“We still had half the boys because the Japanese players are not here yet and many players had to rest,” Reyes told a handful of reporters on his way out of the Smart Arenata Coliseum on Wednesday night. TNT survived the Phoenix. From afar, 123-119.
“Chris Newsome and Raymond Almazan came from the (Meralco) game the night before, while Jamie Malonzo and Scotty Thompson had not yet returned from their (championship) vacation,” he added.
Gilas, however, was able to make an initial assessment of three new call-ups and reunited with his great cornerstone.
“Jerome Lastimosa, Mason Amos, and Shawnee Winston were there, so we had a chance to work on them. Of course, Jon Marr (Fajardo), who we got back into the groove of things,” Reyes said.
Lastimosa, Amos, and Winston are the latest prospects that Gilas Pilipinas has tapped for the sixth and final of the Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers scheduled for next month.
Reyes said it’s too early to say if any of the three varsity standouts can make the final 12 against Jordan or Lebanon, but he’s glad to see and anticipate the program’s future. How do you fit in who plans to down the line?
“We barely did anything. Just a walkthrough of some things. It’s too early to tell,” he said. “Even though we already know what those guys can do, we just want to see how they’ll fit in.”
“I think it’s going to be beneficial for them as well – that experience for the players,” he said.
Gilas is set to host the streaking Seeders on February 24 and then the Falcons at the Philippine Arena on February 27 to use the showcase to identify players who will make the roster for the World Cup this August.
Reyes said Gilas intends to add more days to preparations for the two homestands as more players become available.
“About a week before the games, I think that’s when we’ll go (to training) every day,” he said.
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