A banged-up Gilas Pilipinas squad buckles up for its final day of practice on Monday morning before leaving for Jordan at night to see action in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Thursday at the Prince Hamzah Hall in Amman.
Set to rejoin the training are four players from the Japan B. League in Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos and Ray Parks, who just arrived in the country a few days ago.
They will take part in the training session to join forces with Philippine Basketball Association stars led by reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Roger Pogoy, Calvin Oftana and Poy Erram of TNT Tropang Giga and two-time scoring champion CJ Perez of San Miguel Beer.
Also in the pool are Arvin Tolentino and Will Navarro of NorthPort as well as amateur standouts Kevin Quiambao of De La Salle University and Francis Lopez of Ateneo de Manila University.
But injury bug had bitten Gilas before leaving for the Jordanian capital.
Six-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel and Chris Newsome of Meralco were down with various injuries while Carl Tamayo of University of the Philippines had begged off to rest his banged-up body.
Fajardo underwent surgery on his throat and will be out three to four weeks, while Newsome suffered a calf injury during the Gilas practice last week.
Even naturalized player Ange Kouame is far from perfect form as he is nursing the effect of the partial anterior cruciate ligament tear he suffered last June.
Still, the Ivorian big man refused to let his injury get into the way as he declared readiness to reinforce Gilas and take the spot of the 6-foot-10 Fajardo after observing its training sessions and even participating in light drills.
After facing Jordan on 10 November, Gilas will battle Saudi Arabia on 13 November.
Kai Sotto, the 7-foot-3 center playing for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League, is expected to rejoin the squad once Gilas are in the Middle East.
Sotto was still seeing action as of November 5 where he scored eight points in Adelaide’s 94-89 loss to the Perth Wildcats.
The 20-year-old center played limited minutes but made all his three attempts from the field and sank two free throws.
Arrangements are still being finalized for Sotto’s inclusion in time for Gilas’ two games in the fifth window.
If he makes it on time, he will have a guaranteed spot in Gilas’ final roster, which will be submitted on the eve of their match against their Jordanian rivals.